, Volume 14, Issue 6, pp 409-413
Date: 29 Dec 2005

Sequential Down Syndrome Screening: The Importance of First and Second Trimester Test Correlations when Calculating Risk

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Down syndrome screening can be particularly effective when both first and second trimester tests are performed. However, the counseling of women who have received sequential first and second trimester screening can be problematic. We evaluated an approximation where the post-test risk from the first trimester screening is used as the new a priori risk for the second trimester screening. The approximation disregards between-trimester test correlations. The Down syndrome detection rate based on the approximation (90.2%) would be close to that obtained when all correlations were considered (90.8%) but the false positive rate would be 26% higher (3.9% versus 3.1%, respectively). For any particular woman, the use of the approximation could result in highly inaccurate risks. We conclude that the correlations that exist between first and second trimester screening tests preclude the use of second trimester risks derived from the direct product of separate first and second trimester screening. Counseling issues in the delivery of sequential screening are discussed.