Congratulations on your pregnancy! What an exciting time for you and you family. With the excitement comes all the normal worries about whether your baby will be born healthy. Fortunately, most babies are born without a major birth defect or genetic problem. Even so, it is natural to want reassurance that your pregnancy is a healthy one.
Special blood tests have been available for years to give parents information regarding the risk of having a baby with a birth defect or a chromosomal abnormality such as Down syndrome. Traditionally, these screening tests have been offered in the second trimester, between 15 and 20 weeks of pregnancy. The results are available about a week after the test is taken. These tests do not determine whether the baby has a problem or not, but rather whether the risk of having a problem is higher than normal. Other tests, such as amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling (CVS), are more definitive, but they carry a slight risk of complications since they are invasive procedures.
Maternal-Fetal Medicine at The Valley Hospital offers a first trimester screen that combines a maternal blood screening test with an ultrasound evaluation of the fetus. The noninvasive procedure identifies risk for specific chromosomal abnormalities, including Down syndrome and Trisomy 18. The screening test is performed at 11 to 14 weeks of pregnancy to determine the gestational age of the fetus, and to measure the amount of fluid accumulation behind the fetus neck, called nuchal translucency. The blood is analyzed for two proteins called free Beta hCG and PAPP-A that are normally found in the blood of pregnant women. The screen can detect approximately 90 percent of pregnancies at risk for Down syndrome and Trisomy 18.
Before performing the nuchal translucency test, genetic counseling is offered to educate the patient about the test, and inform her of additional screening and diagnostic tests that are available. If the results of the screening test raise concern, our team of Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialists and genetic counselors are available to provide explanation, and, if needed, additional testing, such as amniocentesis or CVS.
With so many decisions to make during your pregnancy, let our team of integrated specialists help you with this one. Our genetic counselors are available early in your pregnancy if you would like to discuss your options for birth defects screening in detail, prior to making any decisions about which test or tests are best for you.
If you need an Obstetrician/Gynecologist, please click here to view those on Valley's medical staff.
The Valley Hospital offers a wide array of women's and children's services, including The Center for Childbirth, The Fertility Center, Maternal-Fetal Medicine, The Center for Family Education, Pediatrics, and The Kireker Center for Child Development. Maternal and Child Health services are provided in the home by Valley Home Care.