Prenatal ScreeningThe experience of pregnancy is one of excitement and hope but there are also many choices to be made. Selecting the décor for the nursery, whether to find out the sex of the baby and choosing a name are just a few. Another important decision is whether to have any screening tests to determine if there are increased risks for your baby to have certain birth defects.
The good news is that most babies are born healthy.
But we know most expecting mothers still have questions and concerns. By offering improved screening options we hope to provide the answers to some of these questions to help you prepare for your new baby.
In the past, there have only been 2 tests to choose from – the Triple Screen and the Quad Screen, both are blood tests done in the second trimester.
Today there are more options and the testing can be done earlier in pregnancy with more precise information. This means less anxiety for you.
These tests are called FirstScreen® and IntegratedScreen® and can be performed between 11 and 13 weeks of pregnancy.
FirstScreen®FirstScreen® is a test which shows if you have an increased chance to have a baby with Down syndrome (trisomy 21) or another condition called trisomy 18. Both of these are circumstances in which the baby has a different number of chromosomes than expected.
FirstScreen requires a sample of your blood and a special ultrasound measurement performed in the first trimester. This special ultrasound measurement is called a nuchal translucency, or NT, and is a close examination of the pocket of fluid that all babies have behind their neck early in pregnancy.
Performing nuchal translucency ultrasound measurements requires special training and certification.
Our staff has received certification and participates in ongoing quality reviews so that every NT measurement is monitored for accuracy.
The size of the NT measurement, combined with information from your blood sample, is used to calculate a specific risk for you and your baby regarding these conditions. Results are available within 7 days of having the test done.
This test provides information regarding your risks at the earliest possible point in pregnancy.
IntegratedScreen®IntegratedScreen® also shows if you have an increased chance to have a baby with Down syndrome or trisomy 18. In addition, this test provides information regarding the chance for your baby to have certain differences in the development of the spine or brain. This group of conditions is termed neural tube defects.
IntegratedScreen also requires a sample of your blood and a nuchal translucency ultrasound measurement of your baby performed in the first trimester. With IntegratedScreen, another blood sample is drawn early in the second trimester. Results are available within 7 days of the second blood draw.
This test provides the most precise estimate of your risk to have a baby with these conditions.
The Comprehensive Fetal Care Center is the only center in North Carolina that offers a two-step “integrated screening” for Down syndrome and other birth defects such as trisomy 18 and spina bifida.
FirstScreen leads to the detection of approximately:
- 83% of babies with Down syndrome
- 80% of babies with trisomy 18
IntegratedScreen leads to the detection of approximately:
- 92% of babies with Down syndrome
- 90% of babies with trisomy 18
- 80% of babies with neural tube defects
Traditional second trimester screening leads to the detection of approximately:
- 70% of babies with Down syndrome
- 50% of babies with trisomy 18
- 80% of babies with neural tube defects
It is also important to remember that specific detection rates will depend on the laboratory that is used to analyze your samples.
The Choice is YoursEach of these screening options offers distinct advantages and each mother-to-be has her own preferences regarding this testing. We are pleased to be able to make these available to you, but also realize that prenatal screening isn’t for everyone.
While these tests can give a lot of information to you about your baby’s chance for these conditions, it is important for you to know that it is not required that any of these tests be done at all during pregnancy.
Regardless of your choice, you will still be offered an ultrasound as a routine part of your care, usually around 18-20 weeks of pregnancy.
We welcome your questions regarding prenatal screening and always have staff available to talk with you about these options.