PCRM is excited to offer the combination of two highly accurate prenatal screens, Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT) and First Trimester Screening (FTS).   By the end of the first trimester, DuO enables couples to evaluate their pregnancies for:

  • Chromosome problems
  • Early growth and development
  • Placental disorders
  • Early gross anatomy
  • Severe open neural tube defects
  • Markers of heart defects

How is DuO done?

DuO begins with an appointment at around 10 weeks of pregnancy for blood work.   A woman’s blood will be drawn for NIPT genomic assessment and for FTS measurement of a placental protein (PAPP-A) and a pregnancy hormone (hCG). NIPT results typically take 5-7 days.  As soon as these results are available, the genetic counselors contact you to review the results and arrange follow-up if necessary.

Then, between 11 and 14 weeks, the FTS ultrasound is performed.   The ultrasound is performed by Dr. Seethram and results are discussed in real-time.  After the ultrasound is completed, the genetic counselors input the data from the ultrasound, determine the FTS blood work results, and discuss with you the final, combined results.

The evolution of Screening – why NIPT plus FTS is the most comprehensive fetal and maternal screen?

What is NIPT?

You can read more about NIPT by linking to PCRM’s webpage: http://www.pacificfertility.ca/first-trimester/nipt.  NIPT determines with high accuracy the presence or absence of the most common chromosome problems, Down syndrome, trisomy 18, and trisomy 13.  Although the technology behind NIPT is remarkable, it cannot assess the pregnancy for conditions other than specific chromosome problems.   Thus, results from NIPT can be reassuring, but can still leave many questions about the baby’s health left unanswered.

What is FTS?

You can read more about FTS by linking to PCRM’s webpage: http://www.pacificfertility.ca/first-trimester.   FTS determines with high accuracy the presence and absence of the same chromosome problems evaluated by NIPT.   The difference is this:  FTS involves an ultrasound to assess fetal well-being and development and maternal serum measurement of a placental protein (PAPP-A) and a pregnancy hormone (hCG).

Because of its more broad approach to screening, FTS is able to detect concerns beyond the risk of fetal chromosome problems. FTS ultrasound, especially between 12 and 14 weeks, provides a good overview of the baby’s physical development and can detect birth defects unrelated to chromosome problems.   FTS blood work gives insight into how the placenta is functioning. Maternal serum screening can be used to assess risks of complications related to the placenta that occur much later on in pregnancy.   Intrauterine growth restriction, maternal hypertension, and pre-eclampsia are some of the conditions that have been associated with abnormal FTS blood work.

The benefits of DuO

The primary benefit of DuO is to have comprehensive and accurate screening information available early in the pregnancy.  MSP-covered screens (IPS, SIPS, and Quad screening) require second trimester information to calculate risk assessments.   To have NIPT and FTS as complementary screens, a comprehensive picture of the pregnancy’s health will be available by the end of the first trimester.

To have screening results earlier in pregnancy has both emotional and medical benefits.   In the very likely event of normal results, couples can have early reassurance.  In cases of positive or abnormal results, couples can access diagnostic procedures earlier or seek specialty consultations or treatment earlier.