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Health Information For Parents
The first trimester screening (or first trimester screen) typically includes a maternal blood screening test and an ultrasound exam.
It’s done to see if a fetus is at risk of having a chromosomal abnormality (such as Down syndrome or Edward syndrome) or birth defect (such as heart problems).
It’s important to remember that this is a screening test, not a diagnostic test. If the test shows there might be a problem, another test must be done to confirm or rule out a diagnosis.
The screen is considered safe, but it’s your decision whether or not to have it. The benefit of screening in the first trimester is more time for parents to prepare for or address any health problems their baby may have.
When getting any screening, remember that there’s a chance of false-positive or false-negative results:
Talk to your doctor if you have questions about these screenings or your results.
This screening test ideally is done in two parts — a blood sample and an ultrasound exam:
Women whose results show a high risk for carrying a baby with a chromosomal abnormality are offered diagnostic testing, usually through chorionic villus sampling (CVS) in the first trimester or amniocentesis in the second trimester.
Those who are not shown to be high risk in the first trimester are still offered a second trimester screening. That screening, which consists of more blood tests, checks for chromosomal abnormalities and neural tube defects, and helps to confirm the findings from the first trimester screen.
The blood screening is usually done between 9 and 14 weeks. Women who also get an ultrasound have one between 11 and 14 weeks.
Blood screening results usually are ready within a week or two. Ultrasound results can be immediate.
When both the blood test and ultrasound are done, doctors usually calculate the results together. This is called a combined first trimester screening.
Not all doctors calculate a woman’s risk this way. Some wait until after a woman has had other screenings in the second trimester. This is called an integrated screening. Other practitioners don’t do first trimester ultrasounds, instead determining a woman’s risk using the results of her first trimester and second trimester blood screenings. This is called a serum integrated screening.
How your doctor calculates your results depends on your age, health risks, and the services available at the provider’s office.
Genetic counselors work with people who are either planning to have a baby or are pregnant to determine whether they carry the genes for certain inherited disorders. Find out more.
Every parent-to-be hopes for a healthy baby, but it can be hard not to worry. Find out what tests can keep you informed of your health â and your baby’s â throughout pregnancy.
Find out what tests may be offered to you during weeks 13 through 26 of pregnancy.
Find out what tests may be offered to you during weeks 27 through 40 of pregnancy.
Our week-by-week illustrated pregnancy calendar is a detailed guide to all the changes taking place in your baby – and in you!
Some birth defects are minor and cause no problems; others cause major disabilities. Learn about the different types of birth defects, and how to help prevent them.
The sooner in pregnancy good careÂ begins, the better for theÂ health of both moms and their babies. Here’s what to expect.
During your pregnancy, you’ll probably get advice from everyone. But staying healthy depends on you – read about the many ways to keep you and your baby as healthy as possible.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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