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Prenatal Screening

What is Prenatal Screening?

Prenatal screening tests are blood tests that look for certain birth defects that can happen to anyone. There are different types of screening tests, and some can only be done during certain times of your pregnancy. These tests have no risk of harming you or your baby.

Is Prenatal Screening Right for Me?

It is your personal choice to have prenatal screening tests. Prenatal screening is not for everyone. Here are some questions to consider before you decide to have prenatal screening:

  • How would you feel if the screening results showed a higher chance for a genetic condition or birth defect?
  • Would you consider a diagnostic test if a screening test showed a higher chance for a genetic condition?
    • If not, would you be ok waiting until the baby is born to know for sure if the condition is present?
  • Do you think this information would help you feel more prepared?
  • Does more information with the possibility of the results being uncertain make you anxious?

Please Note:

It is important to keep in mind that these tests are not appropriate for all women, such as those who are at a higher risk perhaps due to their age or health history, and these tests do not screen for all genetic conditions or birth defects and each screening test has different accuracy for detecting certain conditions. Please speak with your doctor to help you decide which test is most appropriate for you. If you receive a positive, or abnormal, result from any of these screening tests, you may consider having a diagnostic test that can provide you with clearer, more definite answers. 

If you are a "low risk" patient, with no special concerns or family history of concern, it is most likely your provider can do one of the following tests. If however, you are "high risk", which just means there is something different about your personal or family history, then it is best to seek genetic counseling to assure you have complete and correct information about the concern and all of your options. Screening tests for low risk women are listed below:

Serum Integrated Screen

This test involves two blood tests taken at different times of your pregnancy that can be done in your doctor's clinic. This test is used to estimate the risk, or the chance, of your baby having Down syndrome, trisomy 18 or spina bifida. The first blood draw is about 11 - 13 weeks of pregnancy. The second blood test will take place during the second trimester of pregnancy, or between 15 and 20 weeks of pregnancy. This test can estimate the chance of trisomy 18, and detect 90% of cases of Down syndrome and 80% of cases of spina bifida.

Quad Screening

This test involves a single blood test that can be done in your doctor's clinic that can estimate the risk for Down syndrome, trisomy 18 or spina bifida. This test is done between 15 and 22 weeks of pregnancy. It measures four proteins and hormones made by the baby and placenta that are found in the pregnant woman's blood. This test can estimate the chance of trisomy 18, and detect 84% of cases of Down syndrome and 80% of cases of spina bifida.

Cell Free DNA (cfDNA)

This involves just one blood draw that can be done in your doctor's clinic. This test can be done any time after the 12th week of pregnancy and can tell you the risk of your baby having Down syndrome, trisomy 18, trisomy 13, or sex chromosome issues. This test is often offered to women who are of higher risk, such as those who are 35 years or older. This is the best blood test we have for checking an unborn baby's chromosomes. This test does not give information about spina bifida, and an additional blood test will be offered to you during weeks 15 and 22 of your pregnancy for that condition.

Expanded Carrier Screening

This is a blood test that can be done at any time of your pregnancy or your lifetime. This tests to see if you could pass certain rare hereditary, or genetic, diseases onto your children. A carrier is someone who has one copy of a gene for a hereditary disease and a normal copy. If your partner is also a carrier, then your children have a 25% chance of having that disease.

Definitions

Below are definitions of common words you may hear or read about in terms of prenatal screening:

Down syndrome - also known as trisomy 21, this is a genetic disorder in which there is a third copy of chromosome 21. Learn more

Trisomy 18 - also known as Edward's syndrome, this is a genetic disorder in which there is a third copy of chromosome 18. Learn more

Spina bifida - a birth defect that occurs when the spine and spinal cord do not form or close properly. The severity of the condition depends on the location of the opening and if the spinal cord or nerves were affected. More information can be found Learn more

Chromosome - tightly coiled DNA that carry genetic information. Chromosomes usually come in pairs; one copy of the chromosome comes from the mother and the other copy from the father. Humans typically have 46 chromosomes total and 23 pairs. Having extra, or even missing, chromosomes can have different health effects depending on which chromosome number is affected. 

Sex chromosome - the pair of chromosomes that determine whether the baby will be a boy or a girl. Two X chromosomes will determine it is a girl, while an X and Y chromosome will determine it is a boy. However, there can be extra or missing sex chromosomes that occur that can mean different health affects. 

Gestational age - describes how far along the pregnancy is in terms of weeks. It is measured from the date of the woman's last menstrual cycle to the current date. 

Diagnostic test - these are "yes" or "no" tests that can confirm whether or not your baby has a genetic condition or birth defect. These are different from screening tests. None of the tests described below are diagnostic tests. The most common type of prenatal diagnostic tests are amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling, but these tests have possible risks for you and your baby. Please speak with your doctor for more information about these tests.

I can't delay my care

COVID-19 News & Announcements

Mask Requirements

To minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19, Virginia Mason Memorial (VMM) would like to remind all patients and visitors that masks are REQUIRED at all VMM facilities, including our clinics.

To conserve supplies, we request that all patients and visitors bring masks to their appointments. A limited number of reusable cloth masks, made by community members, will be available if you need one.

We also strongly encourage all community members to wear masks when in public this is one of our best tools to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

UPDATED! May 26: New Visitation Policy

As a response to the current community situation with COVID-19, we are suspending most in-person visits to our hospitalized patients. The decision to suspend hospital visits was difficult and made only after careful consideration.
Read More »

Prescription Home Delivery

We now offer home delivery for your prescription medications.

Learn more »

Visitors to Generations OB/GYN

As part of our continuing efforts to focus on patient safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, Generations has changed its visitor policy.

No visitors will be allowed for clinic visits, with the only exceptions being:

1 Visitor will be allowed for the first OB appointment
1 visitor will be allowed at the 20 week anatomy ultrasound

Visitors to the Family Birthplace

Women in the Family Birthplace may have one visitor.

Telehealth: Your questions answered

Learn more about joining one of our providers for a Telehealth visit »

COVID-19 Evaluation Clinic

Our Creekside HealthyNow location is now a COVID-19 evaluation clinic. If you have cough and fever, please schedule your visit at our Creekside Location. Please list your symptoms in the reason for visit so our team is better prepared to assist you.

This location completes an evaluation to determine if you're a candidate for COVID testing. Learn more »

Physician Recruitment:

Our Physician and Provider recruiting efforts have been modified in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. At present, we are scheduling phone calls with interested candidates, but site visits are not allowed. Also, we will not be extending contracts during the acute phase of the COVID-19 response. Please know how much we appreciate your interest in us and how much we hope to have the opportunity to consider you further for a role with VMM.

Please contact us at physicianrecruitment@yvmh.org to schedule a phone call with one of our recruiters.

Additional Spiritual Resources During COVID-19

For prayers and spiritual care requests please email spiritualcare@yvmh.org

Tele-Chaplaincy

There are times when a direct face to face spiritual care conversation is not the best option (due to distance, a pandemic, patient preference). That's where Tele-Chaplaincy provides another possibility. You can request chaplain support using your personal or hospital room phone to connect confidentially with a hospital chaplain. Chaplains will listen, provide encouragement, offer help and resources, if you are part of a faith community the chaplain can help you connect with them, and, if desired, the chaplain can provide prayer.

Virtual Chaplaincy

There are times when a direct face to face spiritual care conversation is not the best option (due to distance, a pandemic, patient preference). That's where Tele-Chaplaincy provides another possibility. You can request chaplain support using your personal or hospital room phone to connect confidentially with a hospital chaplain. Chaplains will listen, provide encouragement, offer help and resources, if you are part of a faith community the chaplain can help you connect with them, and, if desired, the chaplain can provide prayer.

Elective Surgeries

Based on directives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Virginia Mason Memorial is postponing elective surgeries and procedures.

Hospital Lab Services

All out-patient lab services - including newborn screens and bilirubin collections - will now be provided at Memorial Cornerstone Medicine, 4003 Creekside Loop. Hours are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday; 8 a.m. to noon, Saturday and Sunday.

Hospital Pharmacy

Beginning Thursday, March 19, the hospital pharmacy is closed to the public for the duration of the pandemic. The public may choose to have those prescriptions transferred to VMM's Pharmacy at Creekside or the pharmacy of their choice.

The Pharmacy at Creekside, 4003 Creekside Loop, is open 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday; and Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and offers walk-in or drive-through options for pickup.

Farmacia Del Hospital

A partir del jueves 19 de marzo, la farmacia del hospital estará cerrada al público mientras dure la pandemia. El público puede escoger si quiere que sus recetas sean transferidas a la otra farmacia de Virginia Mason Memorial, localizada en la clínica Cornerstone o también puede elegir cualquier otra farmacia de su preferencia. La clínica de Cornerstone, está localizada en el 4003 Creekside Loop. En esta farmacia se puede recoger la medicina por la ventana y/o adentro de la clínica.

Horario: Lunes a Viernes de 8:30 a.m. a 6:00 p.m. y sábado y domingo de las 8:00 a.m. a las 4:30 pm