The full blood examination, also called FBE or FBC, measures the numbers and size of the important cells types in the blood as well as the blood haemoglobin level. Haemoglobin is the protein in red blood cells that gives blood its red colour. Its most important function is to carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.
During pregnancy, the haemoglobin also provides oxygen to the unborn baby. Anaemia is the term used when the amount of haemoglobin in the blood is too low to supply sufficient oxygen to the body. It is not unusual for pregnant women to have slightly low levels of haemoglobin, and this sometimes requires treatment with iron tablets.
The full blood examination is also important in the screening haemoglobin abnormalities (the thalassaemias and haemoglobinopathies).
Related tests: Full blood count