By Rwanda Campbell, M.D., FACOG, OB/Gyn
“Wow, we finally did it. My pregnancy test is positive!” Congratulations on the great news.
What should you do next? Call and schedule your pregnancy confirmation visit with an OB provider. Although you may be accustomed to not seeking care until you are 12 weeks pregnant, many providers are able to offer first-trimester screening to help access the health of your pregnancy.
What will we do at your pregnancy confirmation visit?
- Answer your questions.
- Check your urine sample for infection and confirm your pregnancy.
- Check your blood pressure, height, and weight.
- Calculate your due date based on your last menstrual cycle and schedule an ultrasound.
- Ask about your health, including previous conditions, surgeries, and pregnancies.
- Ask about your lifestyle, including whether you smoke, drink, or take drugs, and whether you exercise regularly.
- Ask about your stress level.
- Ask about your family’s health and genetic history.
- Offer genetic screening for Down’s Syndrome and other chromosomal problems.
According to the American Congress of Obstetrician and Gynecologists (ACOG) almost all children in the United States are born healthy. Only 2 to 3 out of 100 newborns have major birth defects. For the majority of babies, the cause is unknown. However, there are certain birth defects that can be tested for before the baby is born. These include Down Syndrome, trisomy 18, trisomy 13, and open neural tube defects.
The risk of having a baby with a chromosome abnormality, such as Down syndrome, increases with the mother’s age. However, ACOG recommends prenatal testing be offered to all pregnant women, regardless of age.
The first-trimester screen is a simple blood test performed on you with a finger stick when a fetus is between 9 weeks and 13 weeks and 6 days of age. Your blood is analyzed for 2 markers normally found in all pregnant women.
The blood test is followed by an ultrasound examination, given when the fetus is between 11 weeks, 1 day and 13 weeks and 6 days of age. The ultrasound confirms the baby’s age and measures the amount of fluid behind the baby’s neck.
Results of the blood test and the ultrasound are combined to estimate the risk of Down syndrome, trisomy 18, and trisomy 13. 91% of Down Syndrome cases are detected. 95% of trisomy 18 and trisomy 13 cases are detected.
Congratulations again on your new pregnancy! Please call your provider to make an appointment and with any questions you have along the journey.