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Winthrop: The First Hospital on Long Island to Offer Expectant Parents New Blood Test

In the midst of a joyous time, expectant parents can become overwhelmed by the wealth of tests that are available to assess the health of their unborn child.

Recently, Winthrop-University Hospital became the first hospital on Long Island to offer women with highrisk pregnancies a minimally invasive blood test to screen for the likelihood of fetal abnormalities such as Down Syndrome. This new blood test’s accuracy is so high that it may drastically reduce the need for more invasive screening procedures such as chorionic villus sampling (CVS) or amniocentesis.

“Until recently, the only methods for screening fetuses of high-risk pregnant women for Down Syndrome were through the use of maternal analyte tests – a test that examines the mother’s blood for substances made by the baby and the placenta – and ultrasounds, which have approximately 15 percent false positive rates. Confirmatory diagnostic tests like CVS and genetic amniocentesis are more risky and invasive procedures,” said Anthony Vintzileos, MD, Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Winthrop. “This new blood test can screen patients for fetal Down Syndrome with virtually no risk and extremely high accuracy.”

The MaterniT21 plus test, and other blood tests like it, looks at fragments of free DNA from the baby that are present in the mother’s blood. The presence of extra DNA in the mother’s blood indicates Down Syndrome. The test is over 99 percent accurate and is available to pregnant women who are over the age of 35, have a personal or family history of Down Syndrome, as well as to those who experience abnormal ultrasound or maternal serum screening results. The blood test can be administered anytime from the 10th week of pregnancy onward.

“In many instances, patients can avoid having more invasive amniocenteses due to the blood tests’ extremely low false positive rate,” said Martin Chavez, MD, Chief of Winthrop’s Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine and Director of the Fetal Surgery Program.

Recently, 38-year-old Merrick resident Leticia Schmidt, a patient of Winthrop obstetrician Gary Levine, MD, opted to have the MarterniT21 blood test under Dr. Chavez’s supervision. Leticia, who is pregnant with her third child, had an amniocentesis during her second pregnancy and the experience left her wary about undergoing another one.

“As a mother, it was very scary to see a needle inside of my uterus and almost touching my baby,” recalls Mrs. Schmidt.

So, when Leticia and her husband, Eduardo, learned that a simple new blood test could provide highly accurate screening for fetal abnormalities, the couple was eager to explore the option. Leticia was the first patient at Winthrop to have the test, which became available in April.

“It was so easy to do and was very comforting for us,” said Mrs. Schmidt.

For more information about advanced obstetrical and gynecological services at Winthrop, call 1-866-WINTHROP.

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Winthrop Earns AIUM Accreditation

The American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM) has granted Winthrop-University Hospital’s Maternal Fetal Medicine Team accreditation for fetal echocardiograms. Throughout the country, less than 25 sites have been awarded this certification. In fact, Winthrop is the only site in the tri-state area to hold such accreditation.


Members of Winthrop’s Maternal Fetal Medicine Team.

“Winthrop- University Hospital is proud to be one of the select sites in the country to offer the highest standard of care for patients with complicated pregnancies,” said Anthony Vintzileos, MD, Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Winthrop.

Fetal echocardio graphy uses ultrasound to examine the structure of a fetus’ heart and offers greater detail than a routine obstetric ultrasound. Women identified as being at high-risk for delivering a baby with congenital cardiac defects are often referred for fetal echocardiography during pregnancy for screening as well as diagnosis of these defects. This enables the patient’s obstetrician and Winthrop’s Maternal Fetal Medicine Team to make decisions on how to best manage the pregnancy through a multidisciplinary approach that involves collaboration among physicians from other Winthrop specialties such as pediatric cardiology, neonatology and genetics.

Ultrasound practice accreditation is a voluntary peer-review process that measures practices against nationally accepted protocols in training, practice, and safety. Sites that achieve accreditation show that they have met or exceed these standards.
Vol. 22, No. 2
Summer 2012

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