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.
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.
# # #
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
Members of Winthrop’s Maternal Fetal Medicine Team.
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
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
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
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