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Center for Congenital and Inherited Disorders

Pregnant woman's profile

Maternal Prenatal Screening

The Iowa Integrated Screen is a test available to all women during pregnancy. This screening test is designed to identify women with an increased risk to have a baby with Down syndrome, Trisomy 18, or an open neural tube defect. The screen may also identify women with an increased risk to have a baby with other kinds of birth defects or women at risk to develop a problem later in pregnancy.

For most women the results of the Iowa Integrated Screen will be screen-negative (lower risk) and no further tests are offered. This is reassuring, but does not guarantee that the developing baby is healthy. The Iowa Integrated Screen is the first in a series of tests that may be offered. It cannot directly diagnose birth defects and chromosome abnormalities, but can help you and your healthcare provider decide when other tests such as an ultrasound and amniocentesis may be of value.

This Web site answers some of the common questions women ask about the Iowa Integrated Screen. You are encouraged to discuss this information with your healthcare provider. If you have further questions you may call 319-356-3561 to speak with an Iowa Integrated Screening nurse or genetic counselor.

  1. The Iowa Integrated Screen is a screening test for Down syndrome, Trisomy 18 and open neural tube defects. This screening test is available to all women during pregnancy.
  2. The Iowa Integrated Screen is performed in two stages. Stage One involves an ultrasound and a blood sample and is done in the first trimester of pregnancy. Stage Two involves a second blood sample drawn between 15-20 weeks of pregnancy.
  3. A screen-positive result does not necessarily mean that your baby has Down syndrome, Trisomy 18 or an open neural tube defect, only that there is an increased chance for one of these problems.
  4. A screen-negative result provides reassurance but does not guarantee that your baby is healthy, only that there is a decreased chance for Down syndrome, Trisomy 18 and open neural tube defects.
  5. If the Iowa Integrated Screen is screen-positive, you will be offered an ultrasound and may be offered a diagnostic test such as an amniocentesis to find out if the developing baby has a chromosome abnormality or birth defect.
  6. If you are too far along for Stage One of the Iowa Integrated Screen, a result may still be calculated using Stage Two only (the Quad Screen).
  7. If you miss Stage Two of the Iowa Integrated Screen, a result may still be calculated using the information from Stage One, provided that the nuchal translucency (NT) measurement was done (the First Trimester Screen). Stage One alone cannot screen for open neural tube defects.
  8. Integrated Screening is a more effective screen for Down syndrome and Trisomy 18 than either Stage One or Stage Two alone.
  9. Even though most babies will be healthy, the period of screening and testing can be a stressful time. If a problem is found you will need support and guidance.

Please be aware that unless the person being tested specifically prohibits such use in writing, the specimen and information obtained during the testing process becomes the property of the State of Iowa and may be used for program evaluation or research by the Department of Public Health or Department-approved scientific researchers to improve the health of mothers and children. An example of such research would be finding a blood test or tests which may predict the birth of a premature or growth retarded baby. Such studies are published without identifying the person or persons from whom these results were obtained. There are no known risks from being in these studies, and the person being tested will not benefit personally from participating in this research. However, others may benefit in the future from what we learn as results of these studies. You can find a link to the study or studies currently being conducted on the program website.

If you have questions or concerns, please contact the Iowa Maternal Screening Program at 319-356-3561. If you have questions about the rights of research subjects, please contact the Human Subjects Office, 300 College of Medicine Administration Building, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242, 319-335-6564. To offer input about your experiences as a research subject or to speak with someone other than the research staff, call the Human Subjects Office at the number above. The Maternal Screening Program is administered by the Iowa Department of Public Health. Questions regarding this program may be directed to the state genetics coordinator at 1-800-383-3826.

Testing Facility:

Iowa law requires that all maternal prenatal screening testing be conducted by the designated central testing laboratory - the University Hygienic Laboratory.

Where do I get more information?