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High-risk pregnancy care

Screening and diagnosis

Evaluation and testing

We evaluate the mother, the fetus, the family history and the ethnicity of the parents to assess the risk for problems. We use blood tests, ultrasound, diagnostic tests (when needed) and genetic counselors to assess your pregnancy and screen for issues.

Screening tests

Screening tests are used to assess risk. It is important to understand that screening for risk is different from making a diagnosis. The result of a screening test is a risk level or chance, such as “1 in 500” or “1 in 10.” Prenatal screening tests include ultrasound, blood tests and examining your medical and family histories. These tests can generally be performed without posing any risk to a pregnancy.

A screening test will never identify 100 percent of babies with a problem. If you are identified to be at higher risk for a problem by a screening test, a member of our staff will discuss the issue and the follow-up options with you. Keep in mind that most people identified to be at higher risk by a screening test go on to have a healthy baby.

Diagnostic tests

While a screening test estimates the probability of an issue, a diagnostic test gives a “yes” or “no” answer. Diagnostic tests can specifically answer the question of whether a fetus has a certain chromosomal condition. These tests are invasive and carry a risk for pregnancy loss.  We can test for many conditions, including Down syndrome, but these tests are generally reserved for those couples that have a known risk factor for a specific condition.

If you are in a risk group for which a diagnostic test may be indicated, genetic counseling will be offered to ensure that you are informed about the risks, benefits and limitations of these procedures, as well as any alternatives. 

If you are not in one of these risk groups but simply would like more detailed information, you can request genetic counseling. It is important to understand that no test can identify all birth defects prior to delivery.

Ultrasound imaging

Ultrasound is used throughout pregnancy. With these detailed views, the majority of major birth defects can be diagnosed and signs of a chromosomal or genetic problem can be assessed. 

We recommend that all pregnant women have at least one ultrasound at 18 to 20 weeks to look at fetal growth and anatomy. 

Ultrasound is extremely valuable for assessing the due date, the number of fetuses, amniotic fluid, cervix and the anatomy and growth of your baby. With all of our ultrasounds, the results will be discussed with you at the end of the exam. If there is anything found, information and counseling can be provided before you leave the office.

LMG–Maternal–Fetal Medicine is accredited by the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM), demonstrating our commitment to the highest quality patient care when providing diagnostic ultrasound services. Tests are conducted by experts in cytogenetics at Legacy Laboratory Services , which employs state-of-the-art technology and adheres to the highest level of quality assurance. Our ultrasonographers have all passed the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers exam following their clinical internships.

Ask your provider if a referral to one of our perinatologists or genetic counselors is right for you. Please call us at 503-413-1122 if your provider needs help making this referral.


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