Integrated Screening

Integrated Screening refers to the prenatal genetic testing program
run by the State of California.

Link to the California Prenatal Screening Program web site

According to the California Prenatal Screening web site:

Integrated Screening combines first and second trimester blood test results with Nuchal Translucency (NT) ultrasound results. This type of ultrasound is done by clinicians with special training. It measures an area located on the back of the fetus' neck (this is the nuchal translucency area). This measurement helps screen for Down syndrome and other possible birth defects. (Note: the California State Screening Program does not pay for NT ultrasounds).

Patients with first trimester blood specimens and NT will get a preliminary risk assessment for chromosomal abnormalities in the first trimester. This preliminary risk will be revised when the second trimester blood specimen  (the afp test) is received.*If the new fetal DNA NIPT test is done, the NT test might be modified.

The Prenatal Screening Program provides pregnant women with a risk assessment for open neural tube defects (NTD), abdominal wall defects (AWD), Down Syndrome (trisomy 21), trisomy 18 and SLOS (Smith-Lemli-Opitz Syndrome) through one or two blood tests. Because the screening does not diagnose fetal birth defects, the Program provides women who are at high risk based on the screening test results free follow-up services at State-approved Prenatal Diagnosis Centers.

Services offered at these Centers include genetic counseling, ultrasound, and amniocentesis. Participation in the screening testing and follow-up services is voluntary.

Screening tests do not diagnose Birth Defects

This is the most important concept to understand. The screening test will only help identify the chance or the risk that a birth defect such as Down Syndrome might be present. The report is presented as a statistic. If the risk is low, such as 1/500 or 1/1000, then most people will not go on to have a diagnostic test.

If the risk for a birth defect is higher, such as 1/100, then a diagnostic test such as CVS or amniocentesis might be indicated. This is when the Program provides it's true value, because any additional costs for diagnostic procedures are covered by the State of California. You will have to be referred to a State-approved Prenatal Diagnostic Center (there are a few in Pasadena).

Click here for a pdf article from the California Prenatal Screening Program