Genetic Counseling and Prenatal Screening

Posted on December 19, 2015

PCRM doesn’t cater exclusively to couples struggling to conceive. Many people visit our Burnaby clinic for its unique range of screening services. Expectant parents want to know how their babies are doing at every stage of development. This is understandable. Our genetic counselors, Ursula and Dana, help individuals navigate the intricacies involved with prenatal screening.

A popular misconception is that a genetic counselor’s expertise is reserved only for problematic pregnancies. This isn’t the case. A genetic counselor ensures patients understand all their options; this is a relationship that begins with a patient’s initial phone call and continues throughout the pregnancy. Genetic counselors are there to hold your hand, lend an ear, provide information, and help with any referrals.

When it comes to detecting fetal abnormalities, there are tests, and there are screens.


A test is a procedure that provides definitive information about chromosomal conditions (such as Down syndrome). One such test performed at PCRM is an amniocentesis whereby a needle extracts a sample of the fluid surrounding the baby. This occurs somewhere between 15 and 20 weeks. It provides a result with almost 100% certainty. However, the procedure carries with it a small chance of complications that can lead to loss.


A screen is all about probabilities and statistics. With screening, there is no risk to the developing pregnancy. However, the result is a calculated estimation of a risk; it is not definitive. Serum Integrated Prenatal Screening (SIPS), Integrated Prenatal Screening (IPS), and Quadruple Screening (Quad) are traditional methods of screening, all of which are covered by BC’s Medical Services Plan (MSP). These screens rely on data gathered in the second trimester.

First Trimester Screening (FTS) and Non-Invasive Prenatal Screening (NIPT) are part of a highly accurate screening process known as DuO. With DuO, results are known within the first trimester. Be advised that BC’s MSP does not cover the cost of DuO. We are currently the only clinic in the Lower Mainland that provides this early genetic screening.

Few and far between are the couples who know what they would do if faced with an abnormality in a pregnancy. People feel pummeled by an unexpected diagnosis. Genetic counselors are trained to elicit information that will help couples make informed decisions. Genetic counselors help individuals come to terms with the news and provide coping strategies.

Because abnormalities are rare, prenatal screening, in any form, allows the majority of couples to move forward with increased confidence and reduced anxiety.

Uncertainty plays a part in any pregnancy. At PCRM, a patient’s well-being is always our top priority. We strive to achieve the best outcome for all.

Anyone interested in prenatal screening can speak with one of our genetic counselors. No doctor referral is needed to call with questions or book an appointment.

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Welcome to the Pacific Fertility Centre for Reproductive Medicine Blog! Nationally and internationally recognized for providing exceptional reproductive care, our team believes in empowering people with the knowledge they need to navigate their unique fertility journeys.

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