JOURNAL ARTICLE

First-trimester screening for trisomies 21 and 18

Ronald Wapner, Elizabeth Thom, Joe Leigh Simpson, Eugene Pergament, Richard Silver, Karen Filkins, Lawrence Platt, Maurice Mahoney, Anthony Johnson, W Allen Hogge, R Douglas Wilson, Patrick Mohide, Douglas Hershey, David Krantz, Julia Zachary, Rosalinde Snijders, Naomi Greene, Rudy Sabbagha, Scott MacGregor, Lyndon Hill, Alain Gagnon, Terrence Hallahan, Laird Jackson
New England Journal of Medicine 2003 October 9, 349 (15): 1405-13
14534333

BACKGROUND: Screening for aneuploid pregnancies is routinely performed after 15 weeks of gestation and has a sensitivity of approximately 65 percent, with a false positive rate of 5 percent. First-trimester markers of aneuploidy have been developed, but their use in combination has not been adequately evaluated in clinical practice.

METHODS: We conducted a multicenter study of screening for trisomies 21 and 18 among patients with pregnancies between 74 and 97 days of gestation, based on maternal age, maternal levels of free beta human chorionic gonadotropin and pregnancy-associated plasma protein A, and ultrasonographic measurement of fetal nuchal translucency. A screening result was considered to be positive for trisomy 21 if the calculated risk was at least 1 in 270 pregnancies and positive for trisomy 18 if the risk was at least 1 in 150.

RESULTS: Screening was completed in 8514 patients with singleton pregnancies. This approach to screening identified 85.2 percent of the 61 cases of Down's syndrome (95 percent confidence interval, 73.8 to 93.0), with a false positive rate of 9.4 percent (95 percent confidence interval, 8.8 to 10.1). At a false positive rate of 5 percent, the detection rate was 78.7 percent (95 percent confidence interval, 66.3 to 88.1). Screening identified 90.9 percent of the 11 cases of trisomy 18 (95 percent confidence interval, 58.7 to 99.8), with a 2 percent false positive rate. Among women 35 years of age or older, screening identified 89.8 percent of fetuses with trisomy 21, with a false positive rate of 15.2 percent, and 100 percent of fetuses with trisomy 18.

CONCLUSIONS: First-trimester screening for trisomies 21 and 18 on the basis of maternal age, maternal levels of free beta human chorionic gonadotropin and pregnancy-associated plasma protein A, and measurement of fetal nuchal translucency has good sensitivity at an acceptable false positive rate.

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