Multi-centre first-trimester screening for Down syndrome in the Netherlands in routine clinical practice

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Abstract

Objectives

This is the first report on the results of a first-trimester combined-test screening programme in the Netherlands in a multi-centre routine clinical setting.

Methods

Between July 2002 and May 2004, blood samples were taken from subjects in 44 centres in the Netherlands and sent to our laboratory to assay for maternal serum concentrations of fβ-hCG and PAPP-A. Fetal nuchal translucency (NT) was measured in the participating centres at a gestational age (GA) of 10-14 weeks. Results of those pregnancies for which a combined biochemical and NT risk was calculated were included in the epidemiological analysis of this study.

Results

A total of 4033 singleton pregnancies were included in the analysis. The median maternal age of the analysed group was 36.5 years. The distribution of GA was biphasic, with median GA of 10.3 and 12.1 weeks, respectively. The detection rate using the combined ultrasound and serum screening at a cut-off level of 1 in 250 was 71% (15/21), with a screen-positive rate of 4.7%.

Conclusion

The results of this study show that the first-trimester combined test is suitable as a prenatal screening test in a multi-centre routine clinical setting in the Netherlands. Strict performance evaluation should identify weaknesses in the organisation that impair the performance of the test. Here, the performance of NT was especially identified as a candidate for improvement.

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