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Prenatal screening program

California Prenatal Screening Program

The California Prenatal Screening (PNS) Program is focused on detecting birth defects during pregnancy.

The PNS program works to ensure that prenatal screening services and follow-up diagnostic services, where indicated, are available to all pregnant women in California. Prenatal screening identifies individuals at increased risk for carrying a fetus with a specific birth defect. The PNS Program provides pregnant women with a risk assessment for open neural tube defects (NTD), Down syndrome (trisomy 21), trisomy 18 and SLOS (Smith-Lemli-Opitz Syndrome) through one or two blood tests. 

The program currently offers three types of prenatal screening tests to pregnant women in order to identify individuals who are at increased risk for carrying a fetus with a specific birth defect. The fee for the Prenatal Screening Program is $221.60, whether a woman has one or two blood tests.

Sequential Integrated Screening - Combines first and second trimester blood test results with Nuchal Translucency (NT) ultrasound results. This type of ultrasound is done by clinicians with special training. It measures the back of the fetus' neck to help screen for Down syndrome (trisomy 21) and trisomy 18. (Note: the Screening Program does not pay for NT ultrasounds).

Serum Integrated Screening - Combines a first trimester blood test (10 weeks-13 weeks 6 days of pregnancy) with a second trimester blood test screening result (15 weeks-20 weeks of pregnancy).

Quad Marker Screening - One blood specimen drawn at 15 weeks - 20 weeks of pregnancy (second trimester test).

The screening test indicates risk, but does not diagnose fetal birth defects.  For women with screening results indicating a high risk for a birth defect, the Program provides free follow-up diagnostic services at State-approved Prenatal Diagnostic Centers. Services offered at these Centers include genetic counseling, ultrasound, and amniocentesis. Participation in the screening tests and follow-up services is voluntary.

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CDPH Prenatal Screening Program Mobile App logoThe Prenatal Screening Program’s Mobile App, (PNS Calculator) is an easy way to find out when to get your prenatal screening tests. The free app is available at the Apple App store and Google Play store.

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