First-Trimester Examinations and Tests
British Columbia Specific Information
In British Columbia, prenatal and newborn screening is offered free to all families.
During your pregnancy, your health care provider will offer prenatal screening. Prenatal screening can tell you your chance of having a baby with birth defects. The tests can consist of one or more blood tests and ultrasound. These tests are ordered by your health care provider and can be done at any hospital or laboratory. For more information on prenatal genetic screening, visit BC Women’s Hospital & Health Centre – Prenatal Screening and Perinatal Services BC - Prenatal Genetic Screening Program.
During the first few days after birth, your baby will have a newborn screening test, which includes a blood test and examination by a doctor or midwife. Early detection and treatment of some disorders can help prevent severe mental handicap, growth problems, health problems, or even sudden infant death. For more information on newborn screening, see HealthLinkBC File #67 Newborn Screening Test or visit Perinatal Services BC - Newborn Screening.
At each prenatal visit during your first-trimester, you'll be weighed and have your urine and blood pressure checked. Your doctor will monitor your fetus's growth by measuring the height of your uterus (fundal height) above your pubic bone.
Using a Doppler ultrasound, you should be able to hear your fetus's heartbeat as early as weeks 10 to 12. By the 20th week, the fetal heart tone is strong enough to hear with a specialized stethoscope (fetoscope).
Pregnant women and their partners can choose whether to have tests for birth defects. It can be a hard and emotional choice. You need to think about what the results of a test would mean to you and how they might affect your choices about your pregnancy. You and your doctor can choose from several tests. What you choose depends on your wishes, where you are in your pregnancy, your family health history, and what tests are available in your area. You may have no tests, one test, or several tests.
First-trimester tests for birth defects can be done at around 10 to 13 weeks of pregnancy, depending on the test. Many doctors use a number of tests together, based on what is available. The nuchal translucency test and the first-trimester blood tests are often done together in what is called the first-trimester screening. They can also be done as part of an integrated screening test. Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) may also be done to find certain birth defects.
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Current as ofMay 22, 2015
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