Maternal Fetal Screening

Prenatal testing and diagnosis

St. Vincent’s Antenatal Testing unit is equipped to perform a variety of routine and specialized tests that can be scheduled throughout pregnancy. From genetic screening to targeted ultrasounds, our experienced maternal-fetal medicine team at St. Vincent’s Medical Center offers advanced precision testing to monitor your child's development. 

Our perinatal team is available to manage complicated pregnancies, and our antenatal testing center provides access to the highest level of obstetrical ultrasound and fetal surveillance. The unit includes the latest in screening equipment, yet is designed to inspire a relaxed, at-home feeling. 

Prenatal testing is available for many birth defects. When optimally performed and interpreted by experts, ultrasound can both "screen" for a variety of major defects and can also make a specific diagnosis.  For other types of defects - particularly Down Syndrome  - screening tests such as ultrasound may not be diagnostic themselves but can help identify those patients at highest risk who might consider a diagnostic test. Prenatal screening has expanded greatly and can provide valuable insight into the wellbeing of the pregnancy. More specifically, advances in obstetrical ultrasound and maternal blood screening have enhanced our ability to identify a subset of patients at higher risk for obstetrical problems while reassuring the vast majority of patients.


Ultrasound Services

At St. Vincent’s, we have an AIUM accredited ultrasound unit that provides the full menu of obstetrical ultrasound, including enhanced (multiple U/S marker) 1st trimester Down syndrome screening, 1st trimester anatomical screening, targeted ultrasound evaluation, 3D ultrasound, cervical length screening, and fetal echocardiography. In addition, our unit provides routine and consultative GYN ultrasound imaging, incorporating 3D and 4D imaging and color Doppler modalities.

St. Vincent’s offers reassurance to mothers-to-be early on with its enhanced first trimester ultrasound fetal screening. Chairman of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Director of Maternal Fetal Medicine Dr. William Cusick has performed these screenings since 2000, longer than any doctor in Connecticut. The result is earlier identification of any abnormalities and the opportunity to pursue specialized medical services earlier in pregnancy.

The Family Birthing Center is also equipped to perform targeted vaginal ultrasounds (formerly known as Level II ultrasound) at an early gestational age and provide diagnostic information early in the pregnancy.


Conditions, Diagnosis, Treatment

St. Vincent’s FBC is equipped to handle many of the conditions and diagnosis associated with pregnancy. Some common concerns associated with pregnancy include:
 

  • Vaginal birth following a C-section 

  • Ectopic Pregnancy - an abnormal pregnancy that occurs outside the womb. 

  • Gestational Diabetes - Glucose intolerance during pregnancy

  • Miscarriage - A miscarriage is the spontaneous loss of a fetus before the 20th week of pregnancy

  • Preeclampsia - a pregnancy condition in which high blood pressure and protein in the urine develop after the 20th week (late 2nd or 3rd trimester) of pregnancy

  • Premature Birth - Babies born three or more weeks early are premature


We encourage you to consult with your physician if you have questions regarding your condition.


Diagnostic tests

The two diagnostic tests for Down syndrome and other chromosome abnormalities are:

  • Genetic amniocentesis (14-20 weeks) or

  • Chorionic villus sampling or CVS (10-13 weeks)


These diagnostic tests can tell whether a fetus has Down syndrome with nearly 100 percent accuracy.  However, this certainty comes with a potential price.  These tests are “invasive” and require sampling either the amniotic fluid or the placenta with a needle.  Although the risk is small, approximately one in 200 babies will be lost as a result of genetic amniocentesis and one in 100 will be lost as a result of CVS.  Also, neither test can detect the majority of birth defects associated with normal chromosomes.


Genetic testing & counseling

Often, parents to-be have questions or concerns based on family histories that can be addressed by genetic counseling. Set worries aside by learning the facts. Call 203-576-6201 to schedule an appointment with a counselor at St. Vincent’s.


Antenatal testing services

To help ensure fetal well-being throughout pregnancy, we provide non-stress testing, biophysical profiles, fetal versions and PG gel insertions.


Fetal echocardiography

Fetal echocardiography is a more comprehensive examination of the fetal heart than the standard examination and includes identification of additional cardiac structures not defined in the standard evaluation.  A color Doppler ultrasound is often used and the physician may utilize pulsed Doppler, 3D, and 4D ultrasound, depending upon the circumstances of the examination. It is an important part of Genetic Ultrasound, a new test that identifies more than 95 percent of fetuses with Down syndrome, when performed during the second-trimester of pregnancy.


Expanded Perinatal Services

With the expansion of our perinatal services, we remain focused on our most important responsibility -- keeping our mothers and babies safe. For the past five years, the FBC’s staff has received ongoing training to promote teamwork and communication to ensure evidence-based, safe clinical care. We were pioneers in adopting clinical treatment algorithms surrounding the induction of labor, use of Pitocin, and the appropriate timing of C-section.

All members of the labor and delivery team participate in team training, effective communication, and skill-based drills. St. Vincent’s Family Birthing Center was the first unit in the region to incorporate the use of an obstetrics simulator in clinical training for emergencies. We were the first in the region to drill and test our capabilities to quickly and reliably initiate an emergency C-section.

In 2008, we introduced our innovative shoulder dystocia (the delivery of the head, when the anterior shoulder of the infant cannot pass below the pubic symphysis, or requires significant manipulation to pass through) management program. This has led to a reduction in the occurrence of this potentially devastating complication. St. Vincent’s is committed to patient safety and our FBC team has the expertise to provide the care you need, when you need it most.