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Prenatal Screening program

Pregnant Individual on a Bench

What Birth Defects Are Screened for by the PNS Program

Most babies are born without any type of genetic condition or birth defect. But with all pregnancies, there is a 4 out of 100 chance for this to happen.

The California Prenatal Screening (PNS) Program screens for the birth defects described on this page. It is your choice whether to get your fetus screened for health conditions. Please consult with your prenatal care provider or genetic counselor on whether to get prenatal screening.

If screen test results indicate an increased chance of a specific birth defect, diagnostic testing is needed to tell whether the fetus has it for sure.

What if diagnostic tests show that your baby has a genetic condition or birth defect? A prenatal care provider or genetic counselor at a state-approved Prenatal Diagnosis Center (PDF) will give you information. They will discuss the genetic condition or birth defect and options for your pregnancy.

Genetic Conditions

  • Open neural tube defects (NTD)
  • Down syndrome (trisomy 21)
  • Trisomy 18
  • SLOS (Smith-Lemli-Opitz Syndrome)

Birth Defects

  • Neural Tube Defects (affect brain, spine, or spinal cord)
  • Abdominal Wall Defects (affect abdomen or stomach wall)

What Conditions are Commonly Tested for During Pregnancy? Video

Transcript (PDF)
What Conditions Are Commonly Tested for During Pregnancy? Genetic Support Foundation/Washington Department of Health, 4.32 minutes. Please note that this video covers structural defects and sex chromosome changes that the PNS Program does not screen for. 

Below is more information on the genetic conditions and birth defects screened for by the PNS Program.

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