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Prenatal screening program

California Prenatal Screening Program

The California Prenatal Screening Program is a statewide program offered by prenatal care providers to all pregnant individuals in California. Prenatal screening uses a pregnant individual's blood samples to screen for certain birth defects in their fetus (developing baby).

Positive pregnancy test

Individuals with a fetus found to have an increased chance of one of those birth defects are offered genetic counseling and other follow-up services through state-contracted Prenatal Diagnosis Centers.

Medi-Cal or private health insurance must cover the program fees with only a few exceptions for self-insured employers and out-of-state health plans. There is no co-payment, co-insurance, deductible, or any other form of cost sharing, required of covered families. 

Prenatal screening is your choice. Those who choose to participate can get one or two blood samples collected for two types of prenatal screening. Both screenings are recommended since they screen for different genetic conditions or birth defects. These two screenings are offered:

  1. Cell-free DNA (cfDNA) screening; and
  2. Maternal serum alpha-fetoprotein (MSAFP) screening.

Genetic conditions and birth defects screened for are these:

  • Down syndrome (trisomy 21)
  • Trisomy 18
  • Trisomy 13
  • Neural tube defects, like spina bifida

Starting April 1, 2024, the CA PNS Program will add sex chromosome aneuploidies (SCAs) – also referred to as X and Y chromosome variations – to the state cell-free DNA screening panel. On April 1, 2024, the California Prenatal Screening Program will also screen for the following genetic conditions:

  • Turner syndrome
  • Klinefelter syndrome (XXY)
  • Trisomy X
  • XYY


To learn more about the upcoming PNS Program updates, join the virtual webinar on March 6, 2024, from 5:00 – 6:30PM.  Advanced registration is required.


Find out more about prenatal screening from our new videos in English, Spanish, and Chinese below!

​English Video
​Spanish Video
​Chinese Video

Title: California Prenatal Screening Program and Luisa’s Decision

Language: English

Published: 8/11/2022

Duration: 3:29

Title: Programa de Detección Prenatal de California: La decisión de Luisa

Language: Spanish

Published: 8/29/2022

Duration: 4:14

Title: 加州产前筛查计划及路易莎的决定

Language: Simplified Chinese

Published: 9/20/2022

Duration: 3:59


Program Profile

Educational Resources

The summary serves as an additional resource and should not be used as a replacement for the comprehensive PNS Program patient booklet. The patient booklet provides detailed information about the PNS Program, including consent and legal notices.​​​​

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