The California Prenatal Screening (PNS) Program focuses on detecting birth defects during pregnancy.
The PNS Program ensures prenatal testing and needed follow-up services are available to all pregnant individuals in California. Prenatal screening identifies individuals at increased risk for carrying a fetus with a specific birth defect. The PNS Program provides pregnant individuals the risk that their fetus might have 1 of 4 birth defects through one or two blood tests. The defects are:
- Open neural tube defects (NTD)
- Down syndrome (trisomy 21)
- Trisomy 18
- SLOS (Smith-Lemli-Opitz Syndrome)
The PNS Program currently offers three types of prenatal screening tests to pregnant individuals (see "Types of Screening" section below). The tests inform pregnant individuals if they have increased risk of a fetus with a specific birth defect. The fee for the Prenatal Screening Program is $221.60, whether an individual has one or two blood tests. Health insurance pays some or most of this fee in most cases.
The screening test indicates risk, but it does not diagnose fetal birth defects. For pregnant individuals with screening results indicating a high risk for a birth defect, the PNS 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.