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Prenatal Genetic Screening Program

The BC Prenatal Genetic Screening Program oversees prenatal screening for Down syndrome, trisomy 18, and open neural tube defects across the province.

Prenatal genetic screening can tell a pregnant woman her chance of having a baby with Down syndrome, trisomy 18, or an open neural tube defect. It is offered free of charge as a choice to all pregnant women with MSP coverage in BC.*

For Families

If you are thinking of having a baby, or if you are pregnant, this section on prenatal genetic screening can answer many of your questions. It can also prepare you for an informed discussion with your partner and your health care provider.

It's your choice whether or not to have prenatal genetic screening. The earlier in your pregnancy you see your health care provider, the more options you will have. 

Please watch "It's Your Choice - Learn More About Your Options" for more information about the screening options available to you. 

 Content Editor ‭[4]‬

To learn more about prenatal genetic screening in BC:


Download our "Prenatal Genetic Screening: It's your choice" pamphlets.

English 
Arabic 
French
Korean 
Persian 
Punjabi
Simplified Chinese 
Traditional Chinese 
Vietnamese





Download the decision aid brochure to better understand screening and options. The decision aid may help a woman think about her personal situation to determine whether screening is important for her to do or not.






Look at our visual aid diagram to understand the possible results from having screening.






If you have decided to have prenatal screening, use our pregnancy dating tool to find out when to have your blood drawn.


*If you do not have MSP coverage, prenatal genetic screening is available for a fee. BC Children's Hospital finance department will send you an invoice for $150. You may also be charged for blood collection by the facility who draws your blood.


All pregnant women in BC with Medical Services Plan (MSP) coverage (BC Services Cardcan choose to have prenatal genetic screening. 


Some women may choose to pay privately for a screen not available in the BC public medical system. There are two options: one is called First Trimester Screening (FTS) and the other is called Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT).


Read about the provincially funded and privately paid screening tests.‎



Collection Sites: 

Sites vary in NIPT collection days. Please call them directly to confirm what days/times they are open for collecting blood for NIPT.



 
Patient Counseling
For additional patient counseling regarding prenatal screening and/or family history, please contact Medical Genetics:

Vancouver
Prenatal Referral Centre
Provincial Medical Genetics Program
BC Women's Hospital & Health Centre

Phone: 604-875-2818
Fax: 604-875-3484

Referral Form (print, then fill out manually) or  Fillable Referral Form (download, fill out on the computer, then print).

Victoria
Department of Medical Genetics
Victoria General Hospital

Phone: 250-727-4461
Fax: 250-727-4295


Referrals
Patients must be referred to Medical Genetics by their health care provider. Both Medical Genetics departments offer face-to-face counselling and possibly (but limited) telehealth counselling for those unable to travel. Telephone counselling is possible if telehealth is not available.

To ensure timely processing of referrals, please fax the completed referral form and all available records to the appropriate Medical Genetics clinic:

  • any prenatal screen results (ie. NT, Quad/SIPS/IPS, first trimester screen)
  • all obstetrical ultrasounds done in this pregnancy
  • antenatal record part 1 & 2
  • blood type report from Canadian Blood Services
  • hematology panel, any thalassemia investigations
  • any relevant consultations and other reports 
 
The Genome Canada / UBC Pegasus NIPT research study is no longer recruiting pregnant women for the low-risk part of the study. 

However, the study is still looking for women who meet the criteria for the high-risk part of the study. 

The high-risk criteria are: 

  • 19 years or older
  • pregnant with a singleton
  • between 10 weeks and 23 weeks 6 days gestation
  • qualifies for invasive procedures (amniocentesis/ CVS) whether you choose them or not (applicable invasive procedure eligibility is: screen positive for trisomy 21, 18; maternal age 40 years or older; a previous trisomy pregnancy; or pregnancy with IVF with ICSI) 
If you meet the above criteria and would like to donate a blood sample to help validate NIPT technology in Canada, please contact the study coordinator at kharrington@cw.bc.ca.  

Please note that study participants do not receive any results. 


 
For Families
If you are thinking of having a baby, or if you are pregnant, this section on prenatal genetic screening can answer many of your questions. It can also prepare you for an informed discussion with your partner and your health care provider.

It's your choice whether or not to have prenatal genetic screening. The earlier in your pregnancy you see your health care provider, the more options you will have. 

Please watch this video for more information about the screening options available to you. 

 Content Editor ‭[2]‬


Learn more

To learn more about prenatal genetic screening in BC:


When to Have Blood Drawn

If you have decided to have prenatal screening, use our pregnancy dating tool to find out when to have your blood drawn.


*If you do not have MSP coverage, prenatal genetic screening is available for a fee. BC Children's Hospital finance department will send you an invoice for $150. You may also be charged for blood collection by the facility who draws your blood.

 
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