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University of Iowa News Release

 

Feb. 17, 2009

Photos: (top, left) Karen Ciesielski, a health laboratory scientist at the University Hygienic Laboratory, loads information into a computer about specimens that will be run in the Iowa Integrated Maternal Screen Program. Credit: University of Iowa Hygienic Laboratory.

(bottom, right) Karen Ciesielski, a health laboratory scientist at the University Hygienic Laboratory, loads specimens for testing as part of the Iowa Integrated Maternal Screen Program. Credit: University of Iowa Hygienic Laboratory.

Hygienic lab is first state public health lab to add new pregnancy screens

The Iowa Maternal Screening Program now provides women across the state access to the most advanced and safest methods to screen for Down syndrome and open neural tube defects with the recent addition of the Iowa Maternal Integrated Screen to the tests performed at the University Hygienic Laboratory.

"The Iowa Maternal Integrated Screen offers the most effective and safe method of screening for women because it uses information from both the first and second trimesters combined into a single risk assessment," said Stan Berberich, Ph.D., University Hygienic Laboratory manager for the maternal and newborn screening programs.

With this method, Berberich explained, the screen-positive rate is significantly lower and provides a better detection rate than either the Iowa Maternal Quad Screen, which uses information from only the second trimester, or the Iowa Maternal First Trimester Screen, which uses information from only the first trimester.

"A lower screen-positive rate reduces the number of women who will be offered a diagnostic test, such as an amniocentesis, which carries a small risk of complications, including miscarriage," Berberich said.

The University Hygienic Laboratory is the first state public health laboratory in the nation to provide this important integrated screen, said Christopher Atchison, director of the laboratory.

"Women throughout Iowa can benefit because this screen may reduce the need for other diagnostic tests and their associated risks," Atchison said.

Although the Iowa Maternal Integrated Screen is specifically designed to detect Down syndrome, Trisomy 18, and open neural tube defects, the result sometimes will suggest the possibility of other problems with the pregnancy or the developing baby. It may indicate a risk for delivering the baby early or having a baby with a low birth weight. The screen also may indicate a problem with the placenta or the need for extra medical help before the baby is born or at the time of delivery.

The University Hygienic Laboratory is identified by the Iowa Department of Public Health as the designated laboratory for Iowa's screening programs administered through the department's Center for Congenital and Inherited Disorders. The test was added based on recommendations made by the state's Congenital and Inherited Disorder Advisory Committee.

More information about the tests is available on the Hygienic Laboratory Web site http://www.uhl.uiowa.edu/services/maternalscreening/.

The University Hygienic Laboratory is the state of Iowa's environmental and public health laboratory, with facilities located on the University of Iowa's Research Park in Iowa City and at the Iowa Lab Facilities in Ankeny. Additional information about UHL, its programs and services is available online at http://www.uhl.uiowa.edu.

STORY SOURCE: University Hygienic Laboratory, 102 Research Park, H101 OH, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-5002

MEDIA CONTACT: Pat Blake, 319-335-4177, pat-blake@uiowa.edu

PHOTOS: For images related to the new maternal screen, contact Pat Blake at the email or phone number listed above.