First trimester screening

First trimester screening: Procedure, Risks & Treatments

There are several prenatal tests that are meant to ascertain as to whether there are risks of genetic defects in the baby, one such tests are the First-trimester test. This particular entails two steps:

  • There are blood tests that check for the pregnancy-specific substances in the blood. The substance is the plasma protein that is associated with pregnancy and human chorionic gonadotropin.

  • There is also an ultrasound to see the size of the clear space present in the tissue present in the back of the baby’s neck. 

This test is done during the first trimester or the first 11 to 14 weeks of pregnancy.

Whats the reason to do this test?

  • This test is done in order to evaluate the risk associated with carrying a baby that might have Down syndrome

  • It also checks for the risk of Trisomy 18.

  • This form of test is done much earlier than any other form of prenatal test. To that end, you are going to get the health picture of your baby at an earlier stage. 

  • It is an optional test and only tells you if there is an increased risk of Down syndrome in the baby. 

The procedure of this test

The procedure for this test entails the following:

As we have already said that there will be two tests. To that end, you need to make sure that you physically and mentally prepared for both of these tests:

  • When it comes to the blood tests: During this test, a member of your doctor’s team is going to take a sample of your blood, this blood will then be sent to the labs for the testing process. Once it is done, you can resume your activities as they were before. 

  • Ultrasound exam: During this examination, you will first need to lie back on the table. Then, your gynaecologist or the ultrasound technician will use a transducer and move it along your belly to get the imaging of what is going inside. This is done after your belly is lubricated with a specialized gel that can assist with proper sound propagation and imaging.

None of these tests is risky to you in any way. Furthermore, there is no need to come on an empty stomach before or after these exams.

Are there any risks of this particular test?

No, there are no risks associated with this particular test. As the test is basically blood collection and harmless ultrasound, you are not going to have any complication throughout the course of this test. 

What if the result of the test comes out to be positive?

If the result of the test comes out to be positive in regards to your baby carrying the risk of Down syndrome, then the following additional tests are considered: 

  • Prenatal Cell-Free DNA screening: this particular form of tests is quite intricate and it involves the examination of the foetal DNA from the maternal blood stream.

  • Chronic Villi Sampling: It is a form of diagnostic procedure that is done of the Chronic villi of the mother. However, there is a small risk involved with this test. 

  • Amniocentesis: This is the diagnostic test that is done on the amniotic fluid of the mother. However, there are small risks involved even with this form of test.


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Dr. Madhu Goel

Senior Gynecologist and a Senior Consultant

Dr. Madhu Goel is a well renowned senior gynaecologist and a senior consultant at Fortis La femme, New Delhi. She runs a private consultation in Goel’s surgery and Gynea centre and prior to being associated with Fortis; she was a consultant a Rockland Hospital.