Screening for Birth Defects in Early Pregnancy (Combined Test, Integrated Test, and Quadruple Test)

What is the test?

Blood tests and fetal ultrasound tests for pregnant women check the levels of protein and hormones being produced by the fetus and examine how the fetus is forming. The levels of four different substances as well as early findings on ultrasound can enable doctors to identify pregnancies that are at a higher risk for birth defects such as Down syndrome or neural tube defects (brain and spinal cord problems). If the screening tests suggest problems, your doctor might recommend additional tests, such as amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling, to confirm the findings.

How do I prepare for the test?

Before having this test done, you need to think carefully about what you would do with the results once you have them. The results of these screening tests cannot show for sure whether you have either a healthy fetus or one with a problem. They can only suggest which patients might want to go ahead with further testing.

Either amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling is recommended after an abnormal triple screen. These additional tests have a small risk of miscarriage. Most people with an abnormal screening test decide to go ahead with amniocentesis.

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