Noninvasive Down Syndrome Screening

Number: 0282

Table Of Contents

Applicable CPT / HCPCS / ICD-10 Codes


Scope of Policy

This Clinical Policy Bulletin addresses noninvasive down syndrome screening.

  1. Medical Necessity

    Aetna considers the following noninvasive screening schemes for fetal aneuploidy medically necessary:

    • First-trimester nuchal translucency (NT) testing alone (without serum analyte screening) for multiple gestations; or
    • First-trimester NT measurements results combined with the results of first trimester serum analyte tests that include pregnancy-associated plasma protein A (PAPP-A) plus beta-human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG)Footnote*or
    • Integrated, sequential, or contingent screening: First-trimester triple test (NT, PAPP-A, and hCGFootnote*) plus second-trimester quadruple test (maternal serum alfa-fetoprotein (MSAFP, unconjugated estriol, inhibin A, and hCGFootnote*) screening; or
    • Second-trimester serum analyte screening (see CPB 0464 - Serum and Urine Marker Screening for Fetal Aneuploidy); or 
    • Serum integrated screening for pregnancies where NT measurement is not available or can not be obtained: First-trimester (PAPP-A plus hCGFootnote*) plus second-trimester quad (MSAFP, uncongugated estriol, inhibin A, and hCGFootnote*) screening; or
    • Measurement of cell-free fetal nucleic acids in maternal blood when criteria are met in CPB 0464 - Serum and Urine Marker Screening for Fetal Aneuploidy.

    Aetna considers the above-listed screening tests for fetal aneuploidy not medically necessary for women who have previously or concurrently had a microarray or non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) with cell-free DNA during the current pregnancy. See CPB 0464 - Serum and Urine Marker Screening for Fetal Aneuploidy and CPB 0787 Comparative Genomic Hybridization (CGH).

    Footnotes1* For purposes of this policy, these various forms of hCG are considered interchangeable: free beta subunit of hCG, total hCG, or hyperglycosylated hCG (also known as invasive trophoblast antigen [ITA]).

  2. Experimental, Investigational, or Unproven

    Aetna considers other non-invasive screening schemes for fetal aneuploidy to be experimental, investigational, or unproven, including the following because their effectiveness has not been established:

    • First-trimester NT measurement alone (without first-trimester serum analyte testing) in the absence of fetal cystic hygroma in singleton pregnancies
    • First-trimester serum analyte testing (hCGFootnote* and PAPP-A) alone without NT measurement
    • First-trimester ultrasound assessment of the nasal bone
    • First-trimester maternal plasma levels of follistatin-related gene protein
    • First-trimester maternal serum A disintegrin and metalloprotease 12 (ADAM12-S) level
    • First-trimester maternal serum anti-Mullerian hormone level
    • First-trimester maternal serum placental growth factor level
    • Maternal fetal-derived circular RNA (circRNAs)
    • Maternal plasma apolipoprotein E
    • Maternal plasma microRNA
    • Maternal urinary peptidome
    • Ultrasound evaluation of the right subclavian artery (RSA).
  3. Policy Limitations and Exclusions 

    Note: All screening schemes that involve NT testing are considered medically appropriate only when performed in a setting of demonstrated ultrasound credentialing and ongoing quality monitoring.

  4. Related Policies


CPT Codes / HCPCS Codes / ICD-10 Codes

Code Code Description

Information in the [brackets] below has been added for clarification purposes.   Codes requiring a 7th character are represented by "+":

CPT codes covered if selection criteria are met:

76813 Ultrasound, pregnant uterus, real time with image documentation, first trimester fetal nuchal translucency measurement, transabdominal or transvaginal approach; single or first gestation
+ 76814     each additional gestation (List separately in addition to code for primary        procedure)
81509 Fetal congenital abnormalities, biochemical assays of three proteins (PAPP-A, hCG [any form], DIA), utilizing maternal serum, algorithm reported as a risk score
81510 Fetal congenital abnormalities, biochemical assays of three analytes (AFP, uE3, hCG [any form]), utilizing maternal serum, algorithm reported as a risk score
81511 Fetal congenital abnormalities, biochemical assays of four analytes (AFP, uE3, hCG [any form], DIA) utilizing maternal serum, algorithm reported as a risk score (may include additional results from previous biochemical testing)
81512 Fetal congenital abnormalities, biochemical assays of five analytes (AFP, uE3, total hCG, hyperglycosylated hCG, DIA) utilizing maternal serum, algorithm reported as a risk score
84704 Gonadotropin, chorionic (hCG); free beta chain

CPT codes not covered for indications listed in the CPB:

Maternal fetal-derived circular RNA (circRNAs), measurement of maternal plasma apolipoprotein E c, measurement of maternal urinary peptidome - no specific code
83520 Immunoassay, analyte quantitative; not otherwise specified [first-trimester maternal serum anti-Mullerian hormone level] [first trimester serum A disintegrin and metalloprotease 12 (ADAM 12-S)] [first trimester maternal serum placental growth factor]

Other CPT codes related to the CPB:

59000 Amniocentesis; diagnostic
59015 Chorionic villus sampling, any method
81420 Fetal chromosomal aneuploidy (eg, trisomy 21, monosomy X) genomic sequence analysis panel, circulating cell-free fetal DNA in maternal blood, must include analysis of chromosomes 13, 18, and 21
81507 Fetal aneuploidy (trisomy 21, 18, and 13) DNA sequence analysis of selected regions using maternal plasma, algorithm reported as a risk score for each trisomy
82105 Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP); serum
82106     amniotic fluid
82397 Chemiluminescent assay
82677 Estriol
84163 Pregnancy-associated plasma protein-A (PAPP-A)
84702 Gonadotropin, chorionic (hCG); quantitative
86336 Inhibin A

ICD-10 codes covered if selection criteria are met:

Q90.0 - Q99.9 Chromosomal anomalies
Z36.0 - Z36.4, Z36.82, Z36.89 - Z36.9, Z36.8A Encounter for antenatal screening of mother


Historically in the United States, risk assessment for Down syndrome (DS) and other fetal chromosomal abnormalities had varied by maternal age.  Invasive genetic testing, either amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling (CVS), were offered to women who would be older than age 35 at the time of delivery with singleton pregnancies. Second trimester maternal serum testing ("analyte testing") was offered to women younger than 35 years at time of delivery with singleton pregnancies, or those older than age 35 but who decline invasive testing.  The serum tests performed in the second trimester are either a "triple" screen" (maternal age plus maternal serum alpha-fetal protein (MSAFP), unconjugated estriol, and free or total beta-hCG) or a "quad" screen (maternal age plus MSAFP, estriol, free or total beta-hCG, and dimeric inhibin A).

More recently, guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG, 2007) and the American College of Medical Genetics (ACMG) (Palomaki et al, 2007) state that all women, regardless of age, should have the option of invasive testing.  Although invasive testing (amniocentesis or CVS) detects 100 % of fetal chromosomal abnormalities, it is associated with an increased risk of pregnancy loss compared to non-invasive testing.  Maternal serum testing with the quad screen in the second trimester is safe but only maximally detects 79 % of DS cases.

Second trimester noninvasive prenatal screening may include maternal serum testing for alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) levels to check for neural tube defects. This test is generally performed between 16–18 weeks of pregnancy. Multiple marker screening (also referred to as triple screen or quad screen) may be performed during the second trimester and includes testing maternal serum levels of AFP, hCG, unconjugated estriol (uE3) and/or inhibin-A to combine screening for chromosome abnormalities and neural tube defects. This panel is usually done around 15–20 gestational weeks when abnormal levels could indicate that further evaluation may be needed with invasive testing. 

First Trimester Noninvasive Screening

First trimester noninvasive prenatal screening is usually done between gestational weeks 11–14 to check for chromosomal abnormalities and can be completed in a single combined test or in a multistep process. A blood sample, taken from a pregnant woman, is analyzed for free ß-human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and pregnancy-associated plasma protein A (PAPP-A) levels. In addition, an ultrasound may be performed to measure nuchal translucency (thickness of the space between the back of the fetal neck and overlying skin). The results of these tests (and consideration of maternal age) are used to calculate specific risk for fetal chromosomal disorders. If these results demonstrate a significant probability of a fetal abnormality, invasive testing such as amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling (CVS), may be performed.

Recent advances in prenatal screening have been focused on first trimester non-invasive screening.  According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), non-invasive first trimester screening for chromosomal abnormalities, such as DS, offers several potential advantages over second trimester screening.  First trimester screening provides for earlier diagnosis of fetal aneuploidy.  For women with affected fetuses who elect termination of pregnancy, the procedure is safer and results in fewer maternal complications when performed early in pregnancy.  Women who have negative test results may elect to forego invasive testing thus avoiding the potential complication of unintended fetal loss due to procedure-related complications.

Several population-based studies have evaluated the effectiveness of non-invasive first trimester screening for the detection of DS using a combination of first trimester serum markers with measurement of fetal nuchal translucency (NT) (i.e., ultrasonographic measurement of the fluid accumulation behind the fetal neck,).  A large, National Institutes of Health (NIH)-sponsored, prospective, multi-center study called the Blood, Ultrasound, and Nuchal Translucency (BUN) Trial determined that an algorithm that combined the results an NT measurement in the first trimester (between 11 weeks' and 1 day and 13 weeks' and 6 days' gestation) with the results of maternal serum tests (free-beta hCG and PAPP-A) performed in the first trimester detected about 79 % of all DS cases with a false-positive rate of 5 % (Wapner et al, 2003).  A nested, case-controlled British trial called the Serum, Urine and Ultrasound Screening Study (SURUSS) evaluated both first and second trimester markers for DS in singleton pregnancies.  Results for first trimester screening found that NT in combination with free or total beta-hCG plus PAPP-A detected 85 % of DS with a false-positive rate of 5 % (Wald et al, 2003).  A United States-based, NIH-funded First and Second Trimester Estimation of Risk (FaSTER) Study was an intervention trial involving more than 38,000 pregnancies that compared first and second trimester markers in the same women.  Published results of the first trimester analysis of NT combined with free beta-hCG plus PAPP-A found DS detection rates of 85 % with a false-positive rate of 5 % (Malone and D'Alton, 2003).  The DS detection rates described in these studies are comparable or better than those for second-trimester "quad" screening using four serum markers (MSAFP, total or intact beta-hCG, unconjugated estradiol, and serum inhibin A).

In fetuses with DS, NT measurements are increased, serum total and free beta-hCG are increased and PAPP-A is decreased compared to fetuses without DS in the gestational age window of 11 to 13 weeks (Canick and Kellner, 1999).  The performance of each of the markers, individually, varies as gestational age progresses.  For example, the performance of NT and PAPP-A declines and total and free beta-hCG increases as gestational age proceeds through the end of the first trimester and early second trimester.  In order to achieve the detection rates described in the 3 large trials described above, first trimester non-invasive screening should involve all markers (NT, PAPP-A, and total or free beta-hCG) and be performed in the time window of 11 to 13 weeks gestation.

Two analytes for hCG, "free" beta-hCG and "total" or "intact" beta-hCG, are currently employed in first trimester risk assessment.  The efficacy of the free beta-hCG analyte has been more extensively studied.  Both the BUN and FaSTER trials support the efficacy of free beta-hCG.  Support for the efficacy of the total or intact beta-hCG analyte is provided by the SURUSS study.  As individual markers, NT is the most informative followed by PAPP-A (Wald et al, 2003).  As an individual marker, free beta-hCG outperforms total beta-hCG in detecting DS affected pregnancies.  Recent guidelines from the ACMG (Palomaki et al, 2007) state that all screening schemes that involve measurement of hCG in first or first and second trimester fetal aneuploidy screening should consider free beta subunit of hCG, total hCG, or hyperglycosylated hCG (also known as invasive trophoglast antigen (ITA)) interchangeable.

The Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine (SMFM) and ACMG have provided guidance on follow-up of normal first trimester combination screening.  Specifically, women should not undergo independent sequential "triple" or "quad" screening in the second trimester of pregnancy to further assess aneuploidy risk if results of combined first trimester NT and serum analyte testing are negative (normal) (Driscoll, 2004).  Independent sequential testing of this sort is associated with an unacceptably high false-positive rate (Hackshaw and Wald, 2001; Malone and D'Alton, 2003).  Instead, women who want a higher detection rate can have an integrated or sequential screening test, which combines both first- and second-trimester screening results (ACOG, 2007).  An integrated approach to screening uses both first-trimester and second-trimester markers to adjust a woman's age-relatd risk of having a child with DS (ACOG, 2007).  The results are reported only after both first- and second-trimester screening tests are completed.  In the FASTER (First- and Second-Trimester Evaluation of Risk) trial, the detection rate with "integrated screening" was 94 to 96 % at a 5 % screen-positive rate (Malone et al, 2005).  Although integrated screening has the highest sensitivity and lowest false-positive rate of noninvasive screening methods, the main disadvantage of integrated screening lies in the need to wait 3 to 4 weeks between initiation and completion of the screening.  This may result in patient anxiety and the potential for patients to fail to complete the second-trimester portion of the screening test after performing the first-trimester component.  Another disadvantage is that the patient loses the opportunity to consider CVS if the first-trimester screening indicates a high risk of fetal aneuploidy. 

Sequential screening approaches that obviate some of the disadvantages of integrated screening have been developed (ACOG, 2007).  With this strategy, the patient is informed of the first-trimester screening result.  Those at highest risk might opt for an early diagnostic procedure, and those at lower risk can still take advantage of the higher detection rate achieved with additional second-trimester screening.

Guidelines from the ACMG have introduced the concept of contingent screening (Palomaki et al, 2007).  ACMG guidelines explain that contingent screening, like sequential screening, incorporates aspects of first trimetser screening and integrated screening.  However, in contingent screening, the first trimester results are divided into 3 outcomes:

  1.  screen positive,
  2. screen negative, and
  3. intermediate/pending risk. 

Those patients at intermediate risk will then provide a second trimester sample for testing in order to computed integrated risk.  ACMG guidelines explain that this strategy allows for early diagnosis of DS among a small, high-risk group (screen positives) and early reassurance to a large, low-risk group (screen negatives).  It attempts to maintain high performance by having those with intermediate/pending first trimester risks benefit from the integrated test (Palomaki et al, 2007).

Integrated screening can be performed using only first-and second-trimester serum markers ("serum integrated screening"), without incorporating an NT measurement.  In the FASTER trial, the serum integrated screen resulted in an 85 to 88 % detection rate (Malone et al, 2005).  ACOG (2007) guidelines state that a serum integrated screening approach is ideal for patients without access to NT measurement or for whom reliable NT measurements can not be obtained.

First trimester NT testing alone is less sensitive than either first trimester combined screening or second trimester “quad” screening and, thus, should not be used in isolation for routine fetal aneuploidy screening in singleton pregnancies (Malone and D’Alton, 2003).  In multiple gestations, however, serum analyte testing is unreliable and NT screening alone is medically appropriate.  It should be noted that the identification of a cystic hygroma during first trimester is a very powerful predictor of fetal aneuploidy.  In one large, prospective study, a septated cystic hygroma was associated with a 51 % likelihood of DS (Malone et al, 2005).  This finding should immediately prompt counseling and consideration for diagnostic testing and should not be delayed by serum analyte measurement and further risk calculation. 

First trimester serum analyte testing alone (with any combination of analytes) is also not sufficiently sensitive to be used for routine fetal aneuploidy screening (Wald et al, 2003; Malone and D’Alton, 2003; ACOG, 2004).

Rosen et al (2007), on behalf of the Nuchal Translucency Oversight Committee/Maternal Fetal Medicine Foundation, stated that recent studies have suggested that adding ultrasound assessment of the nasal bone to nuchal translucency thickness and maternal serum analytes in the first-trimester will improve performance.  The authors evaluated the literature and discussed practical issues that must be addressed before widespread implementation of nasal bone screening in the United States.  Furthermore, in a review on screening for fetal abnormalities with ultrasound, Flood and Malone (2008) noted that the limitations of first-trimester nasal bone measurement were reiterated while its measurement has been shown to be beneficial in the second-trimester, especially when calculated with multiples of the median.  The authors concluded that screening for fetal abnormalities continues to evolve with the introduction of novel techniques and the further refinement of previously proposed screening tools.  How these modalities are implemented into routine clinical practice remains to be seen.

Miron et al (2010) ascertained maternal plasma levels of follistatin-related gene protein (FLRG) in the first trimester of pregnancy and assessed its potential role as a marker for pre-natal screening of DS.  Maternal plasma levels of FLRG were determined in 100 pregnant women with normal fetuses in their first trimester of pregnancy (i.e., 11th to 15th weeks).  These results were compared with 20 cases with DS fetuses, taking into consideration clinical and demographic variables, such as maternal age, maternal weight, gestational age, smoking status and ethnicity.  Maternal plasma median of FLRG in the normal population was 1.41 ng/ml with 95 % confidence interval (CI) of 1.37 to 1.70 and inter-quartile range (IQR) of 0.88, during the 11th to 15th weeks of pregnancy.  Maternal age and weight were the only variables significantly related to FLRG levels (p = 0.030 and 0.020, respectively).  Only maternal and gestational ages were related to DS (p = 0.039 and p = 0.006, respectively).  Maternal plasma levels of FLRG were not significantly different in the presence of DS fetuses compared to normal population (p = 0.63).  The authors concluded that FLRG can be successfully detected in maternal plasma in the first trimester of pregnancy.  However, its levels are not significantly altered in the presence of DS fetuses.

Li and colleagues (2010) compared the difference in maternal serum anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) level between DS pregnancies and unaffected pregnancies, and evaluated its performance as a screening marker for DS pregnancy.  A total of 145 pregnancies affected by fetal DS and 290 unaffected controls matched with maternal age and gestational age were selected, and their archived first or second trimester serum retrieved for AMH assay.  There was no significant difference in maternal serum AMH level between pregnancies affected and unaffected by fetal DS.  The first trimester serum samples had higher AMH concentration compared to second trimester samples.  The authors concluded that maternal serum AMH level, as a marker of ovarian age, is not superior to chronological age in predicting DS pregnancies.  Despite the cross-sectional nature of this study, the variation of maternal serum AMH concentration with gestational age warrants further investigation.

A disintegrin and metalloprotease 12 (ADAM12-S) has previously been reported to be significantly reduced in maternal serum from women with fetal aneuploidy early in the first trimester and to significantly improve the quality of risk assessment for fetal trisomy 21 in prenatal screening.  Torring and colleagues (2010) examined if ADAM12-S is a useful serum marker for fetal trisomy 21 using the mixture model.  In this case control study, ADAM12-S was measured by KRYPTOR ADAM12-S immunoassay in maternal serum from gestational weeks 8 to 11 in 46 samples of fetal trisomy 21 and in 645 controls.  Comparison of sensitivity and specificity of first trimester screening for fetal trisomy 21 with or without ADAM12-S included in the risk assessment using the mixture model.  The concentration of ADAM12-S increased from week 8 to 11 and was negatively correlated with maternal weight.  Log multiples of median (MoM) ADAM12-S was positively correlated with log MoM PAPP-A (r = 0.39, p < 0.001), and with log MoM free beta hCG (r = 0.21, p < 0.001).  The median ADAM12-S MoM in cases of fetal trisomy 21 in gestational week 8 was 0.66 increasing to approximately 0.9 MoM in week 9 and 10.  The use of ADAM12-S along with biochemical markers from the combined test (PAPP-A, free beta-hCG) with or without nuchal translucency measurement did not affect the detection rate or false positive rate of fetal aneuploidy as compared to routine screening using PAPP-A and free beta-hCG with or without nuchal translucency.  The authors concluded that these findings show moderately decreased levels of ADAM12-S in cases of fetal aneuploidy in gestational weeks 8 to 11.  However, including ADAM12-S in the routine risk does not improve the performance of first trimester screening for fetal trisomy 21.

Liao et al (2010) evaluated the potential of maternal serum using ADAM12 as a marker for trisomy 21 in Chinese pregnant women.  Serum samples were collected and stored from women having a viable singleton pregnancy undergoing first trimester screening for trisomy 21 between 2006 and 2007.  Serum concentration of ADAM12 was measured using an automated time-solved immuno-fluorometric assay from 608 stored serum samples (601 euploidy and 7 trisomy 21).  Regression analysis was used to determine the expected median in euploidy pregnancies after adjusting for pregnancy characteristics.  The level of ADAM12 MoM was compared between trisomy 21 and euploidy pregnancies.  Expected median levels in Chinese were compared to that published for Caucasians and Afro-Caribbeans.  In euploidy pregnancies, the concentration of ADAM12 increased with crown-rump length and decreased with maternal weight.  The expected median level of ADAM12 in Chinese was significantly lower than Caucasian and Afro-Caribbeans (F = 14.2, p < 0.0001).  There was a significant correlation between log10 ADAM12 MoM both log10 PAPP-A MoMs (r = 0.46; p < 0.001) and log10 free beta-hCG MoMs (r = 0.08; p = 0.048).  The median ADAM12 MoM in trisomy 21 pregnancies was not significantly different from that in euploidy pregnancies (z = 0.18; p = 0.88).  The authors concluded that ADAM12 concentrations in Chinese are lower than those of Caucasians and Afro-Carribeans; that ADAM12 MoM levels in euploidy and trisomy 21 pregnancies were not statistically different.

Valinen et al (2010) examined the correlation between ADAM12 and PAPP-A and free beta-hCG during the first trimester of pregnancy.  ADAM12, PAPP-A and free beta-hCG were measured in 225 serum samples of randomly chosen pregnancies with completely normal outcome.  The samples were taken between pregnancy weeks 9+0 and 12+6.  The ADAM12 levels tended to increase with advanced gestational age and the highest levels were detected at pregnancy week 12.  The ADAM12 levels correlated with PAPP-A levels.  After weight correction and logarithmic transformation the MoM of ADAM12 still correlated with the MoMs of PAPP-A and also with the MoMs of free beta-hCG.  Smokers had lower ADAM12 levels than non-smokers.  The authors concluded that secretion of ADAM12 seems to resemble the secretion of PAPP-A in the end of the first trimester.  Accordingly ADAM12 appears not to be a separate marker independent of PAPP-A.  They stated that it remains to be assessed whether adding ADAM12 in DS screening risk calculation will reduce the false positive rate during the first trimester of pregnancy.

Cowans et al (2010) examined placental growth factor (PlGF) levels in first trimester maternal serum in trisomy 21 pregnancies and investigated the potential value of PlGF in a first trimester screening test.  First trimester maternal serum from 70 trisomy 21 cases and 375 euploid controls were retrospectively analyzed for PlGF using a DELFIA Xpress immunoassay platform.  Results were expressed as MoM for comparison.  PlGF levels were significantly decreased in pregnancies with trisomy 21, 0.76 MoM versus 0.98 MoM in controls.  Inclusion of PlGF into the first trimester combined test (maternal age, PAPP-A, free beta-hCG) and nuchal translucency would increase the detection rate by 0.5 % at a 5 % false-positive rate.  The authors concluded that PlGF at 11 weeks to 13 weeks 6 days has the potential to be included as a marker for the detection of pregnancies with trisomy 21.

In a Cochrane review, Alldred et al (2015) compared the accuracy of first trimester serum markers for the detection of Down's syndrome in the antenatal period, both as individual markers and as combinations of markers.  Accuracy is described by the proportion of fetuses with Down's syndrome detected by screening before birth (sensitivity or detection rate) and the proportion of women with a low risk (normal) screening test result who subsequently had a baby unaffected by Down's syndrome (specificity).  These investigators conducted a sensitive and comprehensive literature search of Medline (1980 to 25 August 2011), Embase (1980 to August 25, 2011), BIOSIS via EDINA (1985 to August 25, 2011), CINAHL via OVID (1982 to August 25, 2011), the Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effectiveness (The Cochrane Library August 25, 2011), MEDION (August 25, 2011), the Database of Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses in Laboratory Medicine (August 25, 2011), the National Research Register (Archived 2007), Health Services Research Projects in Progress database (August 25, 2011).  These researchers did forward citation searching ISI citation indices, Google Scholar and PubMed “related articles”.  They did not apply a diagnostic test search filter; they also searched reference lists and published review articles.  These investigators included studies in which all women from a given population had 1 or more index test(s) compared to a reference standard (either chromosomal verification or macroscopic postnatal inspection).  Both consecutive series and diagnostic case-control study designs were included.  Randomized trials where individuals were randomized to different screening strategies and all verified using a reference standard were also eligible for inclusion. Studies in which test strategies were compared head-to-head either in the same women, or between randomized groups were identified for inclusion in separate comparisons of test strategies.  They excluded studies if they included less than 5 Down's syndrome cases, or more than 20 % of participants were not followed-up.  These researchers extracted data as test positive or test negative results for Down's and non-Down's pregnancies allowing estimation of detection rates (sensitivity) and false positive rates (1-specificity).  They  performed quality assessment according to QUADAS (Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies) criteria.  They used hierarchical summary ROC meta-analytical methods or random-effects logistic regression methods to analyze test performance and compare test accuracy as appropriate.  Analyses of studies allowing direct and indirect comparisons between tests were undertaken.

These researchers included 56 studies (reported in 68 publications) involving 204,759 pregnancies (including 2,113 with Down's syndrome).  Studies were generally of good quality, although differential verification was common with invasive testing of only high-risk pregnancies.  They evaluated 78 test combinations formed from combinations of 18 different tests, with or without maternal age; ADAM12 (a disintegrin and metalloprotease), AFP, inhibin, PAPP-A, ITA, free beta-hCG, placental growth factor (PlGF), Schwangerschafts protein 1 (SP1), total-hCG, progesterone, unconjugated estriol (uE3), growth hormone binding protein (GHBP), placental growth hormone (PGH), hyperglycosylated-hCG, proform of eosinophil major basic protein (ProMBP), human placental lactogen (hPL), free alpha-hCG, and free beta-hCG to AFP ratio.  Direct comparisons between 2 or more tests were made in 27 studies.  Meta-analysis of the 9 best performing or frequently evaluated test combinations showed that a test strategy involving maternal age and a double marker combination of PAPP-A and free beta-hCG significantly outperformed the individual markers (with or without maternal age) detecting about 7 out of every 10 Down's syndrome pregnancies at a 5 % false positive rate (FPR).  Limited evidence suggested that marker combinations involving PAPP-A may be more sensitive than those without PAPP-A.  The authors concluded that tests involving 2 markers in combination with maternal age, specifically PAPP-A, free beta-hCG and maternal age are significantly better than those involving single markers with and without age.  They detect 7 out of 10 Down's affected pregnancies for a fixed 5 % FPR.  The addition of further markers (triple tests) has not been shown to be statistically superior; the studies included are small with limited power to detect a difference.  The screening blood tests themselves have no adverse effects for the woman, over and above the risks of a routine blood test.  However some women who have a “high risk” screening test result, and are given amniocentesis or CVS have a risk of miscarrying a baby unaffected by Down's.  Parents will need to weigh up this risk when deciding whether or not to have an amniocentesis or CVS following a “high risk” screening test result.

Nuchal Translucency Measurement

Correct performance of the NT measurement is critical to the accuracy, safety, and effectiveness of the new non-invasive screening schemes.  First trimester NT screening involves the ultrasound measurement of the echo-free area of the back of the fetal neck measured between 10 and 14 weeks gestation.  The NT measurement is highly dependent on experience of the ultrasonographer,  Small differences -- less than 1/10 of 1 mm -- in NT measurements can characterize the difference between a screen negative or “normal” and screen positive or “abnormal” test result.  The increased detection rates seen with non-invasive first and second trimester screening compared to older screening schemes is mostly due to the contribution of the NT measurement.  All the published trials that have demonstrated superior detection rates of the new screening strategies the incorporate NT measurements have relied on NT measurements performed by highly trained and credentialed ultrasonographers.

Recognizing the potential magnitude of the problem that would result from the performance of NT measurement by untrained ultrasonographers, the SMFM has recommended that first trimester screening not be made widely available until a national program of quality review and oversight is established for the United States.  Similarly, ACOG, the ACMG, the American Institute for Ultrasound in Medicine, and the National Institute of Child Health and Development (NICHD) of the NIH have cautioned that screening based on NT measurements should only be made available in the setting of quality credentialing and oversight monitoring (ACOG, 2004).  Specifically, ACOG concluded that, in order for first-trimester screening for DS and trisomy 18 to be an option, it should be offered only if the following criteria are met (ACOG, 2004):

  1. Access to an appropriate diagnostic test is available where screening test results are positive; and
  2. Appropriate ultrasound training and ongoing quality monitoring programs are in place; and
  3. Sufficient information and resources are available to provide comprehensive counseling to women regarding the different screening options and limitations of these tests.

Nuchal translucency credentialing and quality oversight review process have been established in the NT Oversight Committee (NTOC) of the Maternal Fetal Medicine Foundation (MFMF).  A wide range of national, regional, and local genetics laboratory providers will only provide risk assessment using the components of NT measurement and serum analyte values if the sonographers demonstrate evidence of NT credentialing.  Non-invasive first trimester nuchal translucency testing for fetal aneuploidy is considered medically appropriate only under such a credentialing program.

Maternal Plasma MicroRNA for Down Syndrome Screening

Kamhieh-Milz et al (2014) hypothesized that different fetal developmental processes might be reflected by extra-cellular microRNAs (miRNAs) in maternal plasma and may be utilized as biomarkers for the non-invasive pre-natal diagnosis of chromosomal aneuploidies.  In this proof-of-concept study, these investigators reported on the identification of extra-cellular miRNAs in maternal plasma of DS pregnancies.  Using high-throughput quantitative PCR (HT-qPCR), a total of 1,043 miRNAs were investigated in maternal plasma via comparison of 7 DS pregnancies with age- and fetal sex-matched controls.  A total of 695 miRNAs were identified; 36 significantly differentially expressed mature miRNAs were identified as potential biomarkers.  Hierarchical cluster analysis of these miRNAs resulted in the clear discrimination of DS from euploid pregnancies.  Gene targets of the differentially expressed miRNAs were enriched in signaling pathways such as mucin type-O-glycans, ECM-receptor interactions, TGF-beta, and endocytosis, which have been previously associated with DS.  The authors concluded that miRNAs are promising and stable biomarkers for a broad range of diseases and may allow a reliable, cost-efficient diagnostic tool for the non-invasive prenatal diagnosis of DS.

Furthermore, an UpToDate review on “Down syndrome: Prenatal screening overview” (Messerlian and Palomaki, 2014) does not mention microRNA as a tool for non-invasive prenatal diagnosis of DS.

Credentialing Process for NT Measurements in the U.S.

In December 2004, NICHD, SMFM, ACOG, and the March of Dimes co-sponsored a "State of the Science" workshop where all extant data were reviewed by national and international experts.  Shortly thereafter, the MFMF was founded.  Functioning under the auspices of the MFMF, the NT Oversight Committee developed an educational, training, and quality review program that was initiated in February 2005.  This program, known as the Nuchal Translucency Quality Review Program (NTQR), is one rof two recognized credentialing systems for the United States.

The Fetal Medicine Foundation - United States (FMS-US) offers another recognized credentialing system for the United States for screening for aneuploidy with nuchal translucency measurements.  FMF-US has been offering an education, training, credentialing, and ongoing quality review program that was initiated in the United States more than 5 years ago.  The FMF-US is affiliated with its European counterpart, the Fetal Medicine Foundation - United Kingdom (FMF-UK).

Ultrasound Evaluation of the Right Subclavian Artery

Ranzini and colleagues (2017) examined if fetuses with an isolated aberrant course of the right subclavian artery (ARSA) have increased risk for chromosomal abnormalities, including trisomy 21 or 22q11 deletion.  These researchers performed a retrospective chart review of all fetuses with antenatally diagnosed ARSA.  Data were collected from fetal anatomic surveys, fetal echocardiograms, non-invasive trisomy 21 screening programs, invasive genetic studies, and neonatal records.  A total of 79 fetuses with ARSA were identified at 20.3 ± 3.8 weeks' gestation; 48 fetuses underwent chromosomal evaluation.  Of those, 7 had trisomy 21; 4 other fetuses had unusual karyotype abnormalities.  All fetuses with genetic anomalies had additional aberrant ultrasound findings.  There were three spontaneous fetal deaths (trisomy 21-2 and Wolf-Hirshhorn-1); 9 pregnancies were terminated because of abnormalities and 1 died as a result of hypoplastic left heart syndrome.  No neonate was found or suspected to have 22q11.2 deletion.  The ARSA was isolated in 43 fetuses; all had unremarkable neonatal outcomes, and none were re-admitted within 6 months after discharge.  The authors concluded that as an apparently isolated finding, ARSA is benign and not associated with trisomy 21 or 22q11.2 deletion.  The finding of ARSA, however, warrants a detailed fetal ultrasound.  All fetuses with ARSA and genetic anomalies had additional ultrasound findings.

Furthermore, an UpToDate review on “Sonographic findings associated with fetal aneuploidy” (Benacerraf, 2017) states that “An aberrant right subclavian artery is more common in Down syndrome fetuses than euploid fetuses (prevalence 24 % in Down syndrome versus about 1 % in screened obstetric populations), but it is usually not an isolated finding in Down syndrome”.

Maternal Fetal-Derived Circular RNA (circRNAs)

Sui and colleagues (2020) noted that recent studies have shown that circular RNAs (circRNAs) exhibit differential expression in certain diseases.  However, maternal fetal-derived circRNAs and mRNAs associated with DS have not yet been examined.  In this study, a total of 12 umbilical cord blood samples were collected from pregnant women, including 6 women carrying fetuses with DS (diagnosed by G-banding karyotype analysis), and 6 women carrying fetuses without DS.  In addition, 12 peripheral blood samples were obtained from children, including 6 children with DS and 6 children without DS.  Gene chip technology was used to screen for differentially expressed circRNAs and mRNAs in the cord blood samples, and were subsequently verified by reverse transcription (RT)-qPCR in peripheral blood from the children to identify potential biomarkers.  Furthermore, circRNA / microRNA (miRNA) interactions were predicted using Arraystar miRNA target prediction software.  There was a significant difference in the expression of hsa_circRNA_103127, hsa_circRNA_103112 and hsa_circRNA_104907 between cord blood obtained from the women carrying fetuses with and without DS, and between peripheral blood obtained from children with and without DS (p < 0.01).  As hsa_circRNA_103112 exhibited significant differences in expression between cord blood obtained from the women carrying fetuses with and without DS and between peripheral blood obtained from children with and without DS, its corresponding gene, ubiquitin specific peptidase 25, may be involved in the pathogenesis of the condition.  The authors concluded that the findings of this study suggested that hsa_circRNA_103112 may be up-regulated in individuals with DS, resulting in an expression imbalance of diploid genes through interactions among circRNA, miRNA and mRNA.  Thus, the level of hsa_circRNA_103112 in the peripheral blood of a pregnant woman may serve as potential biomarker of fetal DS during non-invasive prenatal screening.  Moreover, these researchers stated that further circRNA expression studies with larger sample sizes, miRNA microarray analysis, RT‑qPCR validation and circRNA knock‑out or over-expression studies are needed to further evaluate the potential of circRNAs in DS.

The authors stated that this study had several drawbacks.  First, the study was limited by the small number of samples, which was not large enough to establish definitive conclusions.  Furthermore, the samples were collected from Shenzhen People's Hospital and Guilin No. 924 Hospital, which may have resulted in regional differences.  Second, the results may not be applicable to the general population.  Third, the study of circRNAs in DS is still in its initial stages, and the functional analysis requires further confirmation.

Furthermore, an UpToDate review on “Down syndrome: Overview of prenatal screening” (Messerlian and Palomaki, 2020) does not mention maternal fetal-derived circular RNA as a screening tool.

Measurement of Maternal Plasma Apolipoprotein E

Buczynska and colleagues (2020) stated that pre-natal screening for DS is based on both non-invasive and invasive methods.  Non-invasive, cell-free fetal DNA genetic tests are expensive, whereas biochemical methods remain imprecise.  Amniocentesis is the most frequently used invasive diagnosis procedure, characterized by 99.8 % diagnostic efficiency and less than 1 % risk of miscarriage.  These researchers examined the screening value of apolipoprotein E (ApoE) as a potential non-invasive biomarker for pre-natal DS assessment.  This study was carried out on a group of women who decided to undergo routine amniocentesis between the 15th and 18th week of pregnancy at the Department of Reproduction and Gynecological Endocrinology of the Medical University of Bialystok, Poland.  A total of 20 women with DS fetuses were selected as the study group, and 20 healthy pregnant women with euploid fetus karyotypes served as the control group.  The plasma levels of ApoE were significantly higher in the study group compared to healthy subjects (p < 0.05).  The area under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve was 0.978 (p < 0.001), with the cut-off set to 1.37 mg/ml, which was characterized by 80 % of sensitivity and 100 % of specificity.  The authors concluded that the high sensitivity and specificity showed the screening utility of maternal ApoE concentration in pre-natal fetal DS screening.  Moreover, these researchers stated that the present investigation is a preliminary study, and further studies with larger cohorts are needed.

Measurement of Maternal Urinary Peptidome

Shan and colleagues (2019) noted that pre-natal screening for DS based on maternal age, ultrasound (US) measures, and maternal serum biomarkers is recommended worldwide; however, the false-positive rate and poor diagnostic performance of these screening tests remain problematic.  Genetic analysis of cell-free DNA in maternal blood has been developed as a new pre-natal screening for DS, but it has several drawbacks, including turnaround time and cost.  Pre-natal screening diagnostic innovation calls for new tests that are non-invasive, accurate, and affordable.  These investigators reported original observations on potential peptide biomarkers in maternal urine for screening of fetal DS.  The peptidome of urine samples from 23 pregnant women carrying DS fetuses and 30 pregnant women carrying fetuses with normal karyotype was fractionated by weak cation exchange magnetic beads and analyzed by MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry.  Levels of 6 peptides (m/z 1022.1, 1032.1, 1099.5, 1155.9, 1306.6, and 2365.6) were significantly altered between the case and control groups after controlling for maternal and gestational age.  A classification model was constructed based on these candidate peptides that could differentiate fetuses with DS from controls with a sensitivity of 95.7 %, a specificity of 70.0 %, and a ROC curve of 0.909 (95 % CI: 0.835 to 0.984).  Peptide peaks at m/z 1099.5 and 1155.9 were identified as the partial sequences of alpha-1-antitrypsin and heat shock protein beta-1, respectively.  The authors concluded that these new findings support the new idea that maternal urinary peptidome offers prospects for non-invasive biomarker discovery and development for the pre-natal screening of fetal DS.

Cognitive Tests for Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer's Disease in Patients with Down Syndrome

Nadeau et al (2023) stated that improved healthcare for individuals with DS has resulted in an increase in their life expectancy; thus, increasing co-morbidities associated with age-related problems in this population, the most frequent being Alzheimer's disease (AD).  Currently, several cognitive tests have been developed to examine cognitive changes related to the development of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and AD in individuals with DS.  In a systematic review and meta-analysis, these investigators examined available cognitive tests for the diagnosis of MCI and AD in individuals with DS.  They carried out a systematic search of the PubMed and PsycInfo databases to identify studies published between January 1, 2000 and July 1, 2022.  Key search terms were DS, AD or MCI, cognition, and assessment.  Relevant studies evaluating the diagnostic accuracy of cognitive tests for AD or MCI with standard clinical evaluation were extracted.  Risk of bias was assessed using the QUADAS 2.  These researchers identified 15 batteries, 2 intelligence scales, 14 memory tests, 11 executive, functioning tests, 11 motor and visuo-spatial functioning tests, 5 language tests, 3 attention tests, as well as 2 orientation tests.  Analysis showed that the CAMCOG-DS presented a fair-to-excellent diagnostic accuracy for detecting AD in patients with DS; however, for the diagnosis of MCI, this battery showed poor-to-good diagnostic accuracy.  The authors concluded that the findings of this review highlighted important limitations of the current evaluation available for the screening of MCI and AD in patients with DS, and supported the need for more clinical studies to ensure better screening for this highly at-risk population.


The above policy is based on the following references:

  1. Alldred SK, Takwoingi Y, Guo B, et al. First trimester serum tests for Down's syndrome screening. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015;11:CD011975.
  2. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), Committee on Obstetric Practice and Committee on Genetics. First-trimester screening for fetal aneuploidy. ACOG Committee Opinion No. 296. Washington, DC: ACOG; July 2004.
  3. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), Committee on Practice Bulletins - Obstetrics, and Committee on Genetics. Screening for fetal chromosomal abnormalities. ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 77. Washington, DC: ACOG; January 2007.
  4. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). ACOG Committee Opinion #296: First-trimester screening for fetal aneuploidy. Obstet Gynecol. 2004;104(1):215-217.
  5. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). First-trimester screening for fetal anomalies with nuchal translucency. ACOG Committee Opinion No. 223. Washington, DC: ACOG; October 1999. 
  6. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Maternal serum screening. ACOG Technical Bulletin No. 228. Washington, DC: ACOG; September 1996. 
  7. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee on Practice Bulletins -- Obstetrics. ACOG Practice Bulletin. Clinical Management Guidelines for Obstetrician-Gynecologists. Prenatal diagnosis of fetal chromosomal abnormalities. Obstet Gynecol. 2001;97(5 Pt 1):suppl 1-12. 
  8. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee on Genetics. Committee Opinion No. 545: Noninvasive prenatal testing for fetal aneuploidy. Obstet Gynecol. 2012;120(6):1532-1534.
  9. Amor DJ, Xu JX, Halliday JL, et al. Pregnancies conceived using assisted reproductive technologies (ART) have low levels of pregnancy-associated plasma protein-A (PAPP-A) leading to a high rate of false-positive results in first trimester screening for Down syndrome. Hum Reprod. 2009;24(6):1330-1338.
  10. Audibert F, Gagnon A. Prenatal screening for and diagnosis of aneuploidy in twin pregnancies. J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2011;33(7):754-767.
  11. Benacerraf BR, Nadel A, Bromley B. Identification of second trimester fetuses with autosomal trisomy by use of a sonographic scoring index. Radiology. 1994;193:135-140. 
  12. Benacerraf BR. Sonographic findings associated with fetal aneuploidy. UpToDate [online serial]. Waltham, MA: UpToDate; reviewed January 2017.
  13. Brigatti KW, Malone FD. First-trimester screening for aneuploidy. Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am. 2004;31(1):v, 1-20.
  14. Buczynska A, Sidorkiewicz I, Lawicki S, et al. The significance of apolipoprotein E measurement in the screening of fetal Down sndrome. J Clin Med. 2020;9(12):3995.
  15. Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH). Nuchal translucency measurement in first trimester Down Syndrome screening. Issues in Emerging Health Technologies. Issue 100. Ottawa, ON: CADTH; June 2007.
  16. Canick JA, Kellner LH. First trimester serum screening for aneuploidy: Serum biochemical markers. Semin Perinatol 1999;23:359-368.
  17. Carvalho MH, Brizot ML, Lopes LM, et al. Detection of fetal structural abnormalities at the 11-14 week ultrasound scan. Prenat Diagn. 2002;22(1):1-4.
  18. Chitayat D, Langlois S, Wilson RD; Genetics Committee of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada; Prenatal Diagnosis Committee of the Canadian College of Medical Geneticists. Prenatal screening for fetal aneuploidy in singleton pregnancies. J Obstet Gynaecol Can 2011;33(7):736-750. 
  19. Cowans NJ, Stamatopoulou A, Spencer K. First trimester maternal serum placental growth factor in trisomy 21 pregnancies. Prenat Diagn. 2010;30(5):449-453.
  20. Department of Veteran Affairs, Department of Defense. VA/DoD clinical practice guideline for management of pregnancy. Washington, DC: Department of Veteran Affairs, Department of Defense; 2009.
  21. Driscoll DA. Second trimester maternal serum screening for open neural tube defects and aneuploidy, ACMG Policy Statement. Bethesda, MD: American College of Medical Genetics (ACMG); 2004.
  22. Ewigman BG, Crane JP, Frigoletto FD, et al. Effect of prenatal ultrasound screening on perinatal outcome. N Eng J Med. 1993;329:821-827. 
  23. Flood K, Malone FD. Screening for fetal abnormalities with ultrasound. Curr Opin Obstet Gynecol. 2008;20(2):139-145.
  24. Framarin A. First-trimester prenatal screening for Down syndrome and other aneuploidies. Technology Assessment Report. AETMIS 03-01.  Montreal, QC: Agence d'Évaluation des Technologies et des Modes d'Intervention en Santé (AETMIS); 2003. 
  25. Framarin A. First-trimester prenatal screening for Down syndrome and other aneuploidies. AETMIS 03-01. Montreal, QC: Agence d'Evaluation des Technologies et des Modes d'Intervention en Sante (AETMIS); 2003.
  26. Ge Q, Zhu Y, Li H, et al. Differential expression of circulating miRNAs in maternal plasma in pregnancies with fetal macrosomia. Int J Mol Med. 2015;35(1):81-91.
  27. Hackshaw AK, Wald NJ. Inaccurate estimation of risk in second trimester serum screening for Down syndrome among women who have already had first trimester screening. Prenat Diagn. 2001;21:741-746.
  28. Haddow JE, Palomaki GE, Knight GJ, et al. Screening of maternal serum for fetal Down syndrome in the first trimester. N Engl J Med. 1998;338(14):955-961. 
  29. He Y, Wang Y, Li Z, et al. Clinical performance of non-invasive prenatal testing for trisomies 21, 18 and 13 in twin pregnancies: A cohort study and a systematic meta-analysis. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2020;99(6):731-743.
  30. Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement (ICSI). First trimester prenatal testing for Down syndrome using nuchal translucency. Technology Assessment Report. Bloomington, MN: ICSI; 2002.
  31. Jiang T, Lv L, Yang B, et al. Second trimester screening for trisomy 21 using ADAM12-S as a maternal serum marker. Zhonghua Yi Xue Yi Chuan Xue Za Zhi. 2012;29(3):314-318.
  32. Kamhieh-Milz J, Moftah RF, Bal G, et al. Differentially expressed microRNAs in maternal plasma for the noninvasive prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome (trisomy 21). Biomed Res Int. 2014;2014:402475.
  33. Karadzov-Orlic N, Egic A, Milovanovic Z, et al. Improved diagnostic accuracy by using secondary ultrasound markers in the first-trimester screening for trisomies 21, 18 and 13 and Turner syndrome. Prenat Diagn. 2012;32(7):638-643.
  34. Li HW, Hui PW, Tang MH, et al. Maternal serum anti-Mullerian hormone level is not superior to chronological age in predicting Down syndrome pregnancies. Prenat Diagn. 2010;30(4):320-324.
  35. Liao C, Han J, Sahota D, et al. Maternal serum ADAM12 in Chinese women undergoing screening for aneuploidy in the first trimester. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2010;23(11):1305-1309.
  36. Lutgendorf MA, Stoll KA, Knutzen DM, Foglia LM. Noninvasive prenatal testing: Limitations and unanswered questions. Genet Med. 2014;16(4):281-285.
  37. Malone F, Canick JA, Ball RH, et al. First-trimester or second-trimester screening, or both, for Down's syndrome. First- and Second-Trimester Evaluation of Risk (FASTER) Research Consortium. N Engl J Med. 2005;353:2001-2011.
  38. Malone FD, Ball RH, Nyberg DA, et. al.; FASTER Trial Research Consortium. Obstet Gynecol. 2005;106:288-294.
  39. Malone FD, Berkowitz RL, Canick JA, et al. First-trimester screening for aneuploidy: Research or standard of care? Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2000;182(3):490-496. 
  40. Malone FD, D'Alton ME; Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine. First-trimester sonographic screening for Down syndrome. Obstet Gynecol. 2003;102(5 Pt 1):1066-1079.
  41. Mennuti MT, Driscoll DA. Screening for Down syndrome - Too many choices? N Engl J Med. 2003;349(15):1071-1072.
  42. Mersy E, Smits LJ, van Winden LA, et al. Noninvasive detection of fetal trisomy 21: Systematic review and report of quality and outcomes of diagnostic accuracy studies performed between 1997 and 2012. Hum Reprod Update. 2013;19(4):318-329.
  43. Messerlian GM, Palomaki GE. Down syndrome: Overview of prenatal screening. UpToDate [online serial]. Waltham, MA: UpToDate; reviewed January 2020.
  44. Messerlian GM, Palomaki GE. Down syndrome: Prenatal screening overview. UpToDate [online serial]. Waltham, MA: UpToDate; reviewed December 2014.
  45. Miron P, Lambert J, Marcil A, et al. Maternal plasma levels of follistatin-related gene protein in the first trimester of pregnancies with Down syndrome. Prenat Diagn. 2010;30(3):224-228.
  46. Nadeau PA, Jobin B, Boller B. Diagnostic sensitivity and specificity of cognitive tests for mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease in patients with Down syndrome: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Alzheimers Dis. 2023;95(1):13-51.
  47. National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE). Antenatal care: Routine care for the healthy pregnant woman. Clinical Guideline. London, UK: NICE; 2008.
  48. Norton ME, Rose NC, Benn P. Noninvasive prenatal testing for fetal aneuploidy: Clinical assessment and a plea for restraint. Obstet Gynecol. 2013;121(4):847-850.
  49. Nunthapiwat S, Sekararithi R, Wanapirak C, et al. Second trimester serum biomarker screen for fetal aneuploidies as a predictor of preterm delivery: A population-based study. Gynecol Obstet Invest. 2019;84(4):326-333.
  50. O'Connell R, Stephenson M, Weir R. Screening strategies for antenatal Down syndrome screening. NZHTA Report. Christchurch, New Zealand: New Zealand Health Technology Assessment (NZHTA); 2006;9(4).
  51. Palomaki GE, Lee J, Canick JA, et al.; American College of Medical Genetics (ACMG) Laboratory Quality Assurance Committee. Technical standards and guidelines: Prenatal screening for Down syndrome that invludes first trimester biochemistry and/or ultrasound measurements. Standards & Guidelines for Clinical Laboratories. Draft. Bethesda, MD: ACMG; March 21, 2007.
  52. Pornwattanakrilert W, Sekararithi R, Wanapirak C, et al. First-trimester serum biomarker screening for fetal Down syndrome as a predictor of preterm delivery: A population-based study. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2020;33(10):1717-1724.
  53. Ranzini AC, Hyman F, Jamaer E, van Mieghem T. Aberrant right subclavian artery: Correlation between fetal and neonatal abnormalities and abnormal genetic screening or testing. J Ultrasound Med. 2017;36(4):785-790.
  54. Rosen T, D'Alton ME, Platt LD, Wapner R; Nuchal Translucency Oversight Committee, Maternal Fetal Medicine Foundation. First-trimester ultrasound assessment of the nasal bone to screen for aneuploidy. Obstet Gynecol. 2007;110(2 Pt 1):399-404.
  55. Shan D, Wang H, Khatri P, et al. The urinary peptidome as a noninvasive biomarker development strategy for prenatal screening of Down's syndrome. OMICS. 2019;23(9):439-447.
  56. Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM). Good news for would-be mothers: Early, non-Invasive method to assess down syndrome risk a success. Press Release. Washington, DC: SMFM; February 9, 2004.
  57. Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM); Prabhu M, Kuller JA, Biggio JR. Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine Consult Series #57: Evaluation and management of isolated soft ultrasound markers for aneuploidy in the second trimester: (Replaces Consults #10, Single umbilical artery, October 2010; #16, Isolated echogenic bowel diagnosed on second-trimester ultrasound, August 2011; #17, Evaluation and management of isolated renal pelviectasis on second-trimester ultrasound, December 2011; #25, Isolated fetal choroid plexus cysts, April 2013; #27, Isolated echogenic intracardiac focus, August 2013). Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2021;225(4):B2-B15.
  58. Souter VL, Nyberg DA. Sonographic screening for fetal aneuploidy: First trimester. J Ultrasound Med. 2001;20(7):775-790.
  59. Sui W, Gan Q, Chang Y, et al. Differential expression profile study and gene function analysis of maternal foetal-derived circRNA for screening for Down's syndrome. Exp Ther Med. 2020;19(2):1006-1016.
  60. Swedish Agency for Health Technology Assessment and Assessment of Social Services (SBU). Prenatal Diagnosis through Next Generation Sequencing (NGS). Executive Summary. SBU Assessments No. 247. Stockholm, Sweden: SBU; February 2016.
  61. Swedish Council on Technology Assessment in Health Care (SBU). Fetal nuchal translucency in early detection of Down's syndrome - early assessment briefs (Alert). Stockholm, Sweden: SBU; 2001. 
  62. Torring N, Ball S, Wright D, et al. First trimester screening for trisomy 21 in gestational week 8-10 by ADAM12-S as a maternal serum marker. Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2010;8:129.
  63. Valinen Y, Peuhkurinen S, Järvelä IY, et al. Maternal serum ADAM12 levels correlate with PAPP-A levels during the first trimester. Gynecol Obstet Invest. 2010;70(1):60-63.
  64. Wald NJ et al., First and second trimester antenatal screening for Down’s syndrome: The results of the Serum, Urine and Ultrasound Screening Study (SURUSS). J Med Screen. 2003;10(2):56-104.
  65. Wald NJ, Rodeck C, Hackshaw AK, et al. First and second trimester antenatal screening for Down's syndrome: The results of the Serum, Urine and Ultrasound Screening Study (SURUSS). Health Technol Assess. 2003;7(11):1-77.
  66. Wapner R, Thom E, Simpson JL, et al. First-trimester screening for trisomies 21 and 18. N Engl J Med. 2003;349(15):1405-1413.
  67. Zhang B, Pan L, Wang H, et al. Performance of prenatal screening by non-invasive cell-free fetal DNA testing for women with various indications. Zhonghua Yi Xue Yi Chuan Xue Za Zhi. 2018;35(1):51-55.