Objectives We evaluated the performance of first trimester screening for Down syndrome in women less than 35 years of age (study group) and in women aged 35 years or more (control group) in an unselected low-risk population.
Methods The study group comprised a total of 63 945 women who participated in the first trimester combined screening in public health care in Finland during the study period of 1 May 2002 to 31 December 2008. Women at the age of 35 or more (n = 13 004) were controls. Prevalence of Down syndrome, detection rate, false positive rate and number of invasive procedures needed to detect a single case of Down syndrome were analyzed in both groups.
Results The overall prevalence of Down syndrome (n = 73) in the study group was 1:876. The number of detected cases was 54. The detection rate was 74.0% with a false positive rate of 2.8%. Number of invasive procedures needed to detect a single case of Down syndrome was 33. In the control group, the detection rate was 87.0% with a false positive rate of 11.9%. The number of invasive procedures needed to detect a single case of Down syndrome was 15. The differences in detection rate and false positive rate were significant, P < 0.012, P < 0.001, respectively.
Conclusion The overall detection rate given for the entire population is an overestimate for a woman younger than the age of 35, which should be taken into consideration when counselling women of that age.