Prenatal tests can offer valuable information about your health during pregnancy. These health check ups can also tell you things about your baby’s health – whether your child has a birth defect or a genetic disorder.
One of the goals of your first visit to the obstetrician’s office is to confirm your pregnancy and determine whether you or your baby is at risk for any health problems.
The following are some of the more common prenatal screening tests performed during the first trimester of pregnancy:
Ultrasound test for fetal nuchal translucency (NT): Nuchal translucency screening uses an ultrasound test to examine the area at the back of the fetal neck for increased fluid or thickening.
Blood Tests – two maternal serum: The blood tests measure two substances found in the blood of all pregnant women:
- Pregnancy-associated plasma protein screening (PAPP-A)-a protein produced by the placenta in early pregnancy. Abnormal levels of the protein are associated with an increased risk for genetic disorders.
- Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG)–a hormone produced by the placenta in early pregnancy. Abnormal levels are associated with an increased risk for genetic disorders.
When used together as first trimester screening tests, ultrasound and blood tests have a greater ability to determine if the fetus might have a birth defect, such as Down syndrome.
If the results of these first trimester screening tests are abnormal, genetic screening is recommended. Additional testing such as chorionic villus sampling, amniocentesis, cell-free fetal DNA, or other ultrasounds may be needed for accurate diagnosis.