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Prenatal Screening Program

Pregnant couple

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The California Prenatal Screening (PNS) Program focuses on detecting birth defects during pregnancy.

The PNS Program ensures prenatal testing and needed follow-up services are available to all pregnant individuals in California. Prenatal screening identifies individuals with an increased chance of carrying a fetus with a specific birth defect, through one or two blood tests. 

The birth defects screened for are the following:

  • Open neural tube defects (NTD)
  • Down syndrome (trisomy 21)
  • Trisomy 18
  • SLOS (Smith-Lemli-Opitz Syndrome)

The PNS Program currently offers three types of prenatal screening tests to pregnant individuals (see "Types of Screening Tests" below for the three types).

Fees

The fee for the PNS Program is $221.60, whether an individual has one or two blood tests. MediCal pays this fee. Health plans and most private health insurance pay some or most of this fee in most cases.

Screening and diagnostics tests are different

Screening tests indicate an increased chance or no increased chance for a birth defect in the fetus, but it does not diagnose or confirm fetal birth defects. 

Diagnostic tests

For pregnant individuals with screening results indicating an increased chance for a birth defect, the PNS Program provides free follow-up diagnostic services at state-approved Prenatal Diagnostic Centers. Services offered at these centers include genetic counseling, ultrasound, and amniocentesis. Participation in the screening tests and follow-up services is voluntary.

The PNS Program's Mobile App or Online PNS Calculator is an easy way to find out when to get your prenatal screening tests. The free app is available at the Apple App store and Google Play store.

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