Maternal Serum Screening

During your pregnancy, you will be offered maternal serum screening to determine your risks of having a baby with Down syndrome or other chromosome abnormality.  Traditionally this testing was offered only to women over the age of 35.  However, we know women under 35 are also at risk for chromosome disorders.  Therefore the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends that all pregnant women regardless of age should be offered serum screening.  It is a simple blood test using the mother's blood.

First trimester screening is offered between 11-13 weeks of pregnancy.  This involves an ultrasound and taking a small sample of the mother's blood to evaulate the amount of certain pregnancy related proteins.  If you miss this critical time period, your doctor may offer you second trimester screening using the Quad screen.  Although the Quad screen is a good test, it is less sensitive than first trimester screening.  The results of the screening test do not diagnose whether or not your baby has Down syndrome.

It is important to consider having serum screening as some ultrasound findings may be considered normal if your screening test is normal.  Serum screening fine tunes your risk when compared to your age related risk alone.  It will adjust your risk placing you in a high-risk or low-risk category.  If the results show you have a high risk of having an affected fetus, your obstetric provider may refer you to us for genetic counseling and possible prenatal diagnostic testing with chorionic villus sampling or amniocentesis.

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