Brookings Health System

Maternal Fetal Medicine

nuchal-top-bottom.jpgBrookings Health System partners with Avera Medical Group and Avera Maternal Fetal Medicine to provide first-trimester pregnancy screenings locally to expectant parents.

First trimester screenings are an optional, non-invasive evaluation that combines a maternal blood screening test with an ultrasound evaluation to identify pregnancies at high risk for specific chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down Syndrome.

How does it work?

Brookings Health System performs the screening when the mother is between 11 to 13 weeks in her pregnancy. Lab technologists draw blood from the mother to help measure pregnancy-related hormones. Ultrasonographers certified in nuchal translucency (NT) perform an ultrasound to measure the thickness at the back of the neck of the fetus.

Test results are sent to Avera Maternal Fetal Medicine in Sioux Falls to be read by a perinatologist, an OBGYN who specializes in fetus care and complicated, high-risk pregnancies. The perinatologist shares the findings with the parents’ physician in Brookings. The two doctors work together to help manage the baby’s care as needed.

Based on the blood work and ultrasound, the patient is classified as low risk or high risk for having a baby with specific chromosomal abnormalities.

Who is at risk?

Women who are at a higher risk for having babies with chromosomal problems include those who have had babies with or have a family history of, birth defects. Women who are 35 years of age or older also have a higher risk of having a newborn with birth defects.

What if my results are high risk?

High-risk results do not mean a baby has a birth defect. It notes a mother is at risk of having a baby with a genetic disorder and signals care providers to urge parents to consider further testing.

Parents who are at high risk are offered a telemedicine consult at Brookings Health System with a genetic counselor from Avera Maternal Fetal Medicine. The counselor explains risk factors based on the test results and assists parents in deciding about further diagnostic testing.