CALIFORNIA — The California Prenatal Screening Program offers prenatal screenings for all pregnant people in the state. They look for certain birth defects, and if an abnormality is found, genetic counseling and other follow-up services are provided.
As of this week though, there are some changes being made to the program. Starting now, cell-free DNA, or cfDNA, will replace the current biochemical screening for certain trisomies.
According to the California Department of Public Health, this screening provides higher sensitivity and lower false-positive rates.
cfDNA screenings will be available starting at ten weeks but can be done throughout the rest of the pregnancy. The program recommends doing it by 21 weeks though to get the proper follow-up services.
The new screening can also tell patients the sex of the fetus at no additional cost.
A transition period from the current biochemical screenings to cfDNA runs through November 28.
Patients do not have to do these screenings but providers are required to tell them it’s an option. To learn more about the program, click here.