Maternal Screening


Maternal Screening

Early prenatal care is an important part of preparing for the birth of a child. Although most babies are born healthy, about 3 to 4 percent are born with a birth defect or genetic problem.

The Iowa Maternal Screening Program offers several screening tests which provide patients and healthcare providers with information about the pregnancy and the developing fetus. These screening tests are available to all women during pregnancy and are designed to identify women with an increased risk of having a baby with Down syndrome, Trisomy 18 or an open neural tube defect. They may also identify women with an increased risk of having a baby with other kinds of birth defects or women at risk of developing a problem later in pregnancy.

Fortunately, for most women the results of maternal screening will be screen-negative, which indicates that the risk of a fetal abnormality is low. For those women whose result is screen-positive, this does not automatically mean that a problem exists, but rather that there is an increased risk for either a birth defect or a chromosome abnormality. Further testing, such as detailed ultrasound and/or amniocentesis is required to determine if a fetal abnormality actually exists.

To learn more about the State Hygienic Laboratory's Maternal Screening Services, contact the SHL Maternal Screening Laboratory at 319-335-4247. For interpretation or revised dating information, contact the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics OB/GYN Counseling Office at 319-356-8892.

Iowa Health and Human Services Center for Congenital and Inherited Disorders

Two new Maternal Screening test request forms were implemented on July 1, 2023: Maternal Screen First Trimester/Integrated and Maternal Screen NTD/Quad. The new forms were developed based on feedback received directly from you, our clients.

The two new forms are test-specific and contain fields for patient information that is necessary for the lab to conduct the test. To ensure accurate data for both you and your patient, incomplete forms cannot be accepted. Missing information may delay testing of the sample, and SHL will not release testing results until a completed form has been received. To assist with the transition, please refer to these resources: