Health Tests

Medical Content Created by the Faculty of the
Harvard Medical School


Screening for Birth Defects in early Pregnancy (combined test, integrated test, and quadruple test)

How Do I Prepare?

Before having this test done, you need to think carefully about what you would do with the results once you have them. The results of these screening tests cannot show for sure whether you have either a healthy fetus or one with a problem. They can only suggest which patients might want to go ahead with further testing.

Either amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling is recommended after an abnormal triple screen. These additional tests have a small risk of miscarriage. Most people with an abnormal screening test decide to go ahead with amniocentesis.

You can see that the decision to have birth defect screening early in your pregnancy is an important decision. You should have a screening test done only if you think the information it offers would help you to make decisions about your pregnancy.

The batch of screening tests that can be used during the first trimester of pregnancy is known as the "combined test".

The batch of screening tests that is collected in the second trimester is named the "quadruple test."

If you combine first trimester tests and second trimester tests together, this is called the "integrated test."

From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

You can find more great health information on the Harvard Health Publications website.