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J Pregnancy. 2014;2014:962720. doi: 10.1155/2014/962720. Epub 2014 Jul 2.

A new model for providing cell-free DNA and risk assessment for chromosome abnormalities in a public hospital setting.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, San Jose, CA 95128, USA.
  • 2Maternal Fetal Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, San Jose, CA 95128, USA.



Cell-free DNA (cfDNA) offers highly accurate noninvasive screening for Down syndrome. Incorporating it into routine care is complicated. We present our experience implementing a novel program for cfDNA screening, emphasizing patient education, genetic counseling, and resource management.


Beginning in January 2013, we initiated a new patient care model in which high-risk patients for aneuploidy received genetic counseling at 12 weeks of gestation. Patients were presented with four pathways for aneuploidy risk assessment and diagnosis: (1) cfDNA; (2) integrated screening; (3) direct-to-invasive testing (chorionic villus sampling or amniocentesis); or (4) no first trimester diagnostic testing/screening. Patients underwent follow-up genetic counseling and detailed ultrasound at 18-20 weeks to review first trimester testing and finalize decision for amniocentesis.


Counseling and second trimester detailed ultrasound were provided to 163 women. Most selected cfDNA screening (69%) over integrated screening (0.6%), direct-to-invasive testing (14.1%), or no screening (16.6%). Amniocentesis rates decreased following implementation of cfDNA screening (19.0% versus 13.0%, P < 0.05).


When counseled about screening options, women often chose cfDNA over integrated screening. This program is a model for patient-directed, efficient delivery of a newly available high-level technology in a public health setting. Genetic counseling is an integral part of patient education and determination of plan of care.

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