First Trimester Screening

University of Mississippi Health Care, in association with University Center for Fetal Medicine and University Women's Care, now offers first trimester screening for pregnant women.

First trimester screening provides a personalized risk estimate for having a pregnancy affected by certain chromosomal conditions, including a high detection rate for Down syndrome (trisomy 21). The procedure, only performed between the gestational age of 11 weeks and one day and 13 weeks and six days, is the earliest available screen for chromosomal conditions.

The non-invasive procedure involves a maternal blood draw and a specialized ultrasound measurement. The blood test checks proteins levels in the woman's bloodstream. The ultrasound measures the baby's nuchal translucency (fluid beneath the skin behind the neck). An increased thickness may indicate chromosome problems, heart conditions or other genetic issues.

Women referred for screening at the University Center for Fetal Medicine meet with a genetic counselor and a maternal-fetal medicine specialist. Screening results are typically available within a week, affording women an array of follow-up screenings and diagnostic testing options, such as chorionic villus sampling or amniocentesis. 

For women interested in an even higher detection rate for Down syndrome, sequential maternal serum screening, incorporating second trimester serum markers, is offered at the fetal center.

First trimester screening is covered by most major private insurance companies as well as Mississippi Medicaid. It is available for all pregnant women, regardless of age or family history, but it is limited by the narrow gestational window. A dating ultrasound is required before the screening.

© 2014 The University of Mississippi Medical Center