Maternal Serum Screening for Down Syndrome

To assess the chances of Down syndrome in their unborn child, women can undergo a screening test during pregnancy. This helps assess the likelihood that their baby will be born with Down syndrome.

Maternal Serum Screening Test for Down Syndrome

Done to assess the risk of an unborn child developing Down syndrome, this voluntary blood test can be done when a woman is 15 to 20 weeks pregnant.

What Is the Test For?

Maternal Serum Screening Test results are used to identify pregnancies where the risk of Down syndrome is significant enough to justify considering an amniocentesis, a more invasive test during which amniotic fluid is collected from the uterus. Down syndrome is a congenital disease caused by a defect in the chromosomes.

How Does It Work?

Conducted between 15 to 20 weeks of pregnancy, the test measures the amount of AFP (alpha-fetoprotein) and hCG (human chorionic gonadotrophin). These substances are produced by the foetus and the placenta, and can be detected in the mother's blood during maternal screening for Down syndrome.

Together with the mother's age, the measurements of AFP and hCG are used to calculate her risk of delivering a baby with Down syndrome. The test provides the mother with her individual risk of having a baby with Down syndrome. This numerical risk is classified into either "low-risk" or "high-risk" using a cut-off risk of one in 250 to help mothers decide whether or not to go for an amniocentesis.

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