, 2022-08-12 07:00:00,
California will offer DNA screening to pregnant people who want to evaluate the risk of chromosomal abnormalities in their fetuses starting in mid-September.
Cell-free DNA screening measures the risk that a fetus has certain chromosomal conditions by analyzing fetal cells in a pregnant person’s blood. It’s supposed to be offered to all pregnant patients, according to standards set by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). With new changes to the California Department of Public Health’s Prenatal Screening Program, the test will be available for the first time to many lower-income Californians.
Without insurance, the fee is $221.60, but the screening will be covered by Medi-Cal and many private insurers. Particularly for Medi-Cal beneficiaries, said midwife Madeleine Wisner, this increased access “is huge.”
“It is the standard of care now,” said Wisner, who runs Welcome Home Midwifery Services in Sacramento. “We offer it to everyone, but it has been cost-prohibitive for a lot of folks.”
For years, California’s Prenatal Screening Program has offered an older type of screening that leads to more false positives. Because the state pays for follow-up care and tests, the cfDNA screening is expected to save money and reduce anxiety by eliminating many false positives.
The state plans to begin testing people who are 10 or more weeks along in their pregnancies starting Sept. 19.
ACOG calls cfDNA screening “the most sensitive and specific screening test” for common fetal conditions in which an extra chromosome is present or a full chromosome is missing (there are 46 chromosomes in a typical human cell). The test uses fetal…
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