Prenatal screening is a series of tests that provides information on the risks of giving birth to a child with a birth defect or congenital illness. Testing does not screen for every birth defect. Typical testing screens for Down syndrome (Trisomy 21), Trisomy 18 and Open Spina Bifida (open neural tube defects).
Initial screening is available starting at 11 weeks of pregnancy and requires an ultrasound and blood testing. Initial screening provides only an indication of the risk of birth defect. To find out for certain if a baby has a birth defect, other testing is used such as chorionic villus sampling (CVS) or amniocentesis. These tests are more invasive and carry greater risk.
Parents who learn that their child may suffer from a major disability or may not survive the pregnancy have the right to choose whether to proceed or end the pregnancy.
If prenatal screening is not performed properly or the test results are not reported accurately, parents are effectively denied their legal right to choose. In these circumstances, the parents who have not been given the risk information they are entitled to may be able to obtain compensation for the extraordinary costs of raising a disabled child, when they take the position that had they been told about the risks, they would have ended the pregnancy.