Genetics Northern California

California Prenatal Screening Program

The California Prenatal Screening Program is an optional test offered to all pregnant people in California. The test looks for certain conditions in a developing baby.

You can decide if you want to learn about the chance for the following conditions: 

The screening program includes two blood tests:   
Cell-Free DNA (cfDNA)Screening 
  • Done after 10 weeks in pregnancy (ideally between 11 and 21 weeks)
  • Screens for 3 chromosome conditions: Down syndrome, trisomy 18, and trisomy 13
  • Can predict fetal sex, if requested
Maternal Serum Alpha-Fetoprotein (MSAFP)Screening 
  • Done between 15 and 21 weeks 
  • Screens for open physical birth defects, including defects of the spine and belly (ex: spina bifida, abdominal wall defects) 
You can learn more about the California Prenatal Screening Program on this website:  CA Prenatal Screening Program

Results take about 1-2 weeks and will be posted on
  • Screen negative: This means that the chance is low for the baby to have any of the conditions the test looks for.  
  • Screen positive: This means that the chance for the baby to have a chromosome condition or birth defect is high enough to offer follow-up testing. This does not mean the baby definitely has a condition. More testing is needed to know for sure. 
Kaiser Permanente members with screen positive results can have follow-up services at any Kaiser Permanente Genetics Department or any of the State-approved Prenatal Diagnosis Centers.  There is no co-pay or additional fee for authorized follow-up services. 

Last reviewed: September 21, 2022
Reviewed by: Kimberly Barr, MS, LCGC