Office: 535 Ocean Avenue, Portland, Maine 04103     Phone: (207) 518-6000     Fax: (207) 518-6001

Ultra-Screen: First Trimester Ultrasound Screening

According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), almost all children in the United Statesare born healthy.  Only 2 or 3 out of 100 newborns have major birth defects.  For the majority of babies, the cause is unknown.  However, there are certain birth defects that can be tested for prenatally.  These include Down’s syndrome, trisomy 18 and trisomy 13.  The risk of having a baby with a chromosome abnormality increases with a mother’s age.  However, ACOG recommends prenatal testing be offered to all pregnant women, regardless of age.

Why is prenatal screening important? Being tested during pregnancy will allow you to be informed about the health of your baby, even before it is born.  The information you receive will be extremely valuable in helping you plan for your baby’s birth.  You and Dr. Rainville will also be able to decide if you need more testing later in the pregnancy.  If you learn you will have a baby with a birth defect, you can proactively prepare your family for the future by making important medical and finacial decisions about care.  Please remember, though, that the decision to perform first trimester screening is your personal decision.

Ultra-Screen consists of a combination of an ultrasound exam and a maternal blood test.  The ultrasound  exam is performed between 11 weeks and 3 days and 13 weeks and 6 days by a sonographer certified in nuchal lucency screening.  The blood test is drawn in our office between 10 weeks and 13 weeks and sent immediately to NTD Laboratories, Inc. in New York.  The ultrasound demonstrates a fetal heartbeat and determines gestational age.  Then, the amount of fluid accumulation behind the neck of the baby, called the nuchal translucency (NT), is measured.  The blood specimen is analyzed for two chemical called free Beta chorionic gonadotropin (free Beta), and pregnancy associated plasma protein-A (PAPP-A) which are normally found in the blood of all pregnant women.  The results of the ultrasound exam are combined with the results of the blood test to estimate a specific risk for Down syndrome and trisomies 18 and 13.  Once your ultrasound is performed, results are available within 24 hours.  ULTRA-SCREEN is the only test that offers first trimester results.  Patients who are shown to be at increased risk will have the added time to consider if they want to have a diagnostic procedure done, such as amniocentesis (a test in which a small amount of fluid from around the baby is collected) or chorionic villus sampling ( a test in which a small amount of placental tissue is collected).

Ultra-Screen offers a 91% detection rate in the first trimester.  There is a very low (2%) false positive rate.  It is a safe, non-invasive, accurate test.  Just a few simple steps can deliver the news you want to hear.  Sometimes the best news about your pregnancy comes when you’re barely even showing!

Karen Dressel, RDMS