Early prenatal care is an important part of preparing for the birth of a child. Although most babies are born healthy, about 3 to 4 percent are born with a birth defect or genetic problem.
The Iowa Maternal Screening Program offers several screening tests which provide patients and healthcare providers with information about the pregnancy and the developing fetus. These screening tests are available to all women during pregnancy and are designed to identify women with an increased risk of having a baby with Down syndrome, Trisomy 18 or an open neural tube defect. They may also identify women with an increased risk of having a baby with other kinds of birth defects or women at risk of developing a problem later in pregnancy.
Fortunately, for most women the results of maternal screening will be screen-negative, which indicates that the risk of a fetal abnormality is low. For those women whose result is screen-positive, this does not automatically mean that a problem exists, but rather that there is an increased risk for either a birth defect or a chromosome abnormality. Further testing, such as detailed ultrasound and/or amniocentesis is required to determine if a fetal abnormality actually exists.