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The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Recommendations

In 2015 (reaffirmed 2017), ACOG’s Committee on Genetics offered these recommendations for cell-free DNA screening for fetal aneuploidy. The committee opinion in its entirety can be accessed on the ACOG website. A link to the report is at the bottom of this page.


  • A discussion of the risks, benefits, and alternatives of various methods of prenatal screening and diagnostic testing, including the option of no testing, should occur with all patients.
  • Given the performance of conventional screening methods, the limitations of cell-free DNA screening performance, and the limited data on cost-effectiveness in the low-risk obstetric population, conventional screening methods remain the most appropriate choice for first-line screening for most women in the general obstetric population.
  • Although any patient may choose cell-free DNA analysis as a screening strategy for common aneuploidies regardless of her risk status, the patient choosing this testing should understand the limitations and benefits of this screening paradigm in the context of alternative screening and diagnostic options.
  • The cell-free DNA test will screen for only the common trisomies and, if requested, sex chromosome composition.
  • Given the potential for inaccurate results and to understand the type of trisomy for recurrence-risk counseling, a diagnostic test should be recommended for a patient who has a positive cell-free DNA test result.
  • Parallel or simultaneous testing with multiple screening methodologies for aneuploidy is not cost-effective and should not be performed.
  • Management decisions, including termination of the pregnancy, should not be based on the results of the cell-free DNA screening alone.
  • Women whose results are not reported, indeterminate, or uninterpretable (a “no call” test result) from cell-free DNA screening should receive further genetic counseling and be offered comprehensive ultrasound evaluation and diagnostic testing because of an increased risk of aneuploidy.
  • Routine cell-free DNA screening for microdeletion syndromes should not be performed.
  • Cell-free DNA screening is not recommended for women with multiple gestations.
  • If a fetal structural anomaly is identified on ultrasound examination, diagnostic testing should be offered rather than cell-free DNA screening.
  • Patients should be counseled that a negative cell-free DNA test result does not ensure an unaffected pregnancy.
  • Cell-free DNA screening does not assess risk of fetal anomalies such as neural tube defects or ventral wall defects; patients who are undergoing cell-free DNA screening should be offered maternal serum alpha-fetoprotein screening or ultrasound evaluation for risk assessment.
  • Patients may decline all screening or diagnostic testing for aneuploidy.

Reference: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. ACOG Committee Opinion No. 640, September 2015. Available at: http://www.acog.org/Resources-And-Publications/Committee-Opinions/Committee-on-Genetics/Cell-free-DNA-Screening-for-Fetal-Aneuploidy. Accessed March 19, 2018.