First Trimester Screening
The First Trimester Screening has two parts: bloodwork and an ultrasound.
Bloodwork is taken from the mom to measure the levels of pregnancy-associated plasma protein-A (PAPP-A) and the pregnancy hormone known as human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). Abnormal levels of PAPP-A and HCG may indicate a problem with the baby.
An ultrasound is performed to measure a specific area on the back of the baby’s neck. This is known as a nuchal translucency screening test. When abnormalities are present, more fluid than usual tends to collect in this neck tissue.
Using the mother’s age and the results of the blood test and the ultrasound, your doctor or genetic counselor can estimate the chance of having a baby with Down syndrome. This screening is offered to all pregnant women, regardless of age or risk factors.