Pregnancy can be an exciting time for expectant parents. It can also be a time of concern over the health of the baby. Medical technology has led to the development of many prenatal screening tools used to identify mothers and babies who are at an increased risk for developing a disease or condition.

Prenatal screening results do not give a “yes” or “no” answer about the presence of a disease or whether it will develop, only if it is more or less likely. Women who test positive for a screening test may not actually have the condition. The screening is a way to rule out people who are at low risk and identify those at high risk.

Birth defects are physical abnormalities that may be caused by inherited genes, genetic mutations, or environmental factors. They cause deformities or disabilities that cannot always be treated or cured. Birth defects that are most often identified by screenings are chromosome abnormalities like Down syndrome and neural tube defects like spina bifida.