The California Prenatal Screening (PNS) Program focuses on detecting birth defects during pregnancy.
The PNS Program makes prenatal screening available to all pregnant individuals in California, along with follow-up diagnostic services when needed. 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).
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
confirm fetal birth defects.
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.