Top Docs: Fast facts about prenatal testing

Dr. Jessica Jacob, an obstetrician/gynecologist, performs a sonogram

Dr. Jessica Jacob, an obstetrician/gynecologist, performs a sonogram in her office in New Hyde Park. (Aug. 6, 2012) Photo Credit: Newsday/Audrey C. Tiernan

advertisement | advertise on newsday

As most any pregnant woman can confirm, the barrage of possible prenatal tests -- to monitor the health of mother and baby and detect potential problems -- can be overwhelming. Here's what you need to know:


"If there's one message you can get out to people, it's to undergo genetic testing before you become pregnant," said Dr. Jessica Jacob, an obstetrician-gynecologist who practices in New Hyde Park and delivers babies at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset. "I'm astounded at how many women walk into my office pregnant, and no gynecologist has ever talked to them about screening for genetic diseases."

If pregnancy is on the agenda, she said, both partners should be genetically screened for cystic fibrosis, spinal muscular atrophy and a condition called fragile X syndrome, which causes a common form of mental retardation. Genetic testing is especially important for African-Americans, Ashkenazi Jews and people of Italian and Greek heritage, who all face special genetic risks, she said.

"People often say, 'It doesn't run in my family, and I don't need to get tested,' " Jacob said. But, in reality, she said, whatever genetic risk you face "can go generations, and no one gets it until, boom, someone marries the wrong person."

But if tests reveal a genetic problem, Jacob said, that doesn't have to mean pregnancy should be avoided. In many cases, it's possible to perform in vitro fertilization using embryos that are free of disease.

advertisement | advertise on newsday


Even if a woman is sure that she would not have an abortion if something was wrong with the fetus, Jacob said, couples should still undergo prenatal testing.

The tests "provide more information to monitor what happens later in pregnancy and interpret it," she said. "The information itself is crucially important. It's extraordinarily helpful to know what to expect and be ready for complications of delivery."


No prenatal tests are mandatory, "although doctors have a responsibility to recommend those applicable to each individual patient," said Dr. Laurence F. Mack, associate director of obstetrics and gynecology at Mercy Medical Center in Rockville Centre.


Common tests, he said, include sonograms, screening for diseases such as measles and mumps, so-called AFP screening to look for genetic diseases, including Down syndrome, and screening for diabetes. "All of these are recommended for all patients, in general," Mack said. In addition, he noted, newer tests given in the first trimester -- 11 to 13 weeks -- use sonograms and blood tests to estimate the risk "earlier than ever" that mothers will give birth to babies with Down syndrome.

Mack and Jacob agreed that there's no standard number of prenatal tests because what's appropriate depends so much on each woman's medical history and background. But the number of tests available today is far greater than in the past, Mack said.


Ultrasound examinations may pick up signs of problems, but Jacob said it's important to not be disabled by anxiety and fear.

"Women tend to worry when they're told anything is off, but so many things end up being fine in the end," she said. "Women have to brace themselves for not panicking when they're told about small issues and small problems. There's a lot of unnecessary panicking that goes on."

advertisement | advertise on newsday


Some of the newer prenatal tests, in conjunction with sonograms, allow signs of conditions such as Down syndrome to be detected earlier than ever before, Mack said.

In addition, blood tests are now being developed that will allow genetic problems that cause such conditions to be detected within the first three months of pregnancy without amniocentesis, he said. Amniocentesis, which is usually performed after four months of pregnancy, can detect signs of genetic problems, but it's potentially dangerous to the fetus and generally reserved for women at higher risk for a problem.


Obstetricians and gynecologists

advertisement | advertise on newsday


This is the eighth installment of a 26-week series in which Newsday presents Castle Connolly's list of top Long Island doctors.


Dr. David A. Baker

Stony Brook Univ. Med. Center

Dept. Ob/Gyn HSCT9030

6 Technology Dr.

East Setauket


Dr. Leonard A. Benedict

433 Uniondale Ave.

Uniondale; 516-483-8798

Dr. Deborah M. Davenport

100-16 S. Jersey Ave.

East Setauket


Dr. Michael Gentilesco

48 Route 25A, Ste. 207



Dr. Joan Haselkorn

556 Merrick Rd., Ste. 200

Rockville Centre


Dr. Paula Hirt

83 W. Main St.

East Islip; 631-277-5800

Dr. Jessica Jacob

3003 New Hyde Park Rd.

Ste. 407

New Hyde Park


Dr. Mitchell Kramer

180 E. Pulaski Rd.

Huntington Station


Dr. Eileen Krim

3111 New Hyde Park Rd.

North Hills; 516-365-6100

Dr. Douglas S. Lee

Suffolk Ob/Gyn

118 N. Country Rd.

Port Jefferson


Dr. Laurence F. Mack

1130 N. Broadway

P.O. Box 1550

North Massapequa


Dr. Charles T. Mann

48 Route 25-A, Ste. 207



Dr. Martin Matalon

375 E. Main St., Ste. 4

Bay Shore; 631-665-8226

Dr. Michael Nimaroff

825 Northern Blvd.

Fl. 3-Ste. 301

Great Neck


Dr. Allen Ott

595 Hampton Rd.



Dr. David Rothbaum

233 E. Shore Rd., Ste. 109

Great Neck


Dr. Gerardo A. San Roman

118 N. Country Rd.

Port Jefferson


Dr. Pedro R. Segarra

595 Hampton Rd.



Dr. Allen W. Toles

1554 Northern Blvd., Fl. 5

Manhasset 516-390-9242

Dr. Kusum Vasudeva

Pro Health Plaza

2 Ohio Dr.

Lake Success 516-608-6800

Dr. Manuel A. Veloso Jr.

303 E. Park Ave.

Long Beach 516-431-2828


Dr. Adiel Fleischer

LIJ Medical Center, Dept. ObGyn

270-05 76th Ave.

Rm. 471

New Hyde Park


Dr. Victor R. Klein

825 Northern Blvd.

Ste. 301

Great Neck


Dr. Natalie Meirowitz

LIJ Medical Center

Dept. Ob/Gyn

270-05 76th Ave.

Rm. 471

New Hyde Park


Dr. Burton L. Rochelson

N. Shore Univ. Hosp.

Dept. Maternal/

Fetal Medicine

300 Community Dr.



Dr. Anthony M. Vintzileos

Women's Contemp. Care Assoc.

120 Mineola Blvd., Ste. 100

Mineola; 516-663-8657


Dr. Harriet Boxer

Nassau Univ. Med. Ctr.

Div. Neonatology

2201 Hempstead Tpke.

Box 30

East Meadow 516-572-3319

Dr. Dennis Davidson

Stony Brook

Children's Center

101 Nicholls Rd.


Stony Brook


Dr. Aruna Parekh

Stony Brook University

Medical Center

Dept. of Pediatrics, HSC T-11 060

Stony Brook


Dr. Richard Schanler

Chief, Neonatal- Perinatal Med.

North Shore Univ. Hosp.

300 Community Dr.

Manhasset 516-562-4665

Dr. Andrew M. Steele

Steven & Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center

269-01 76th Ave.

Ste. 344

New Hyde Park



How they were picked


Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. is a health-care research and information company founded in 1991 by a former medical college, board chairman and president to help guide consumers to America's top doctors and top hospitals. Castle Connolly's established survey and research process, under the direction of a doctor, involves tens of thousands of top doctors and the medical leadership of leading hospitals.

Castle Connolly's physician-led team of researchers follows a rigorous screening process to select top doctors on both the national and regional levels. Its online nominations process -- located at -- is open to all licensed physicians in America who are able to nominate physicians in any medical specialty and in any part of the country, as well as indicate whether the nominated physician is, in their opinion, among the best in their region in their medical specialty or among the best in the nation in their medical specialty.

Careful screening of doctors' educational and professional experience is essential before final selection is made among those physicians most highly regarded by their peers. The result -- Castle Connolly identifies the top doctors in America and provides the consumer with detailed information about their education, training and special expertise in their paperback guides, national and regional magazine "Top Doctors" features and online directories. Doctors do not and cannot pay to be selected and profiled as Castle Connolly Top Doctors. (Newsday is not part of the selection process.)

Physicians selected for inclusion in this "Top Doctors" feature may also appear as Regional Top Doctors online at, or in one of Castle Connolly's Top Doctors guides, such as America's Top Doctors® or America's Top Doctors® for Cancer.


To see the whole list . . .


Who else is on the list of Top Doctors? More than 6,000 listings are in the New York Metro Area edition of "Top Doctors," published by Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. The softcover list price is $34.95. For more information, go to, or call 800-399-DOCS.

Comments now uses Facebook for our comment boards. Please read our guidelines and connect your Facebook account to comment.

You also may be interested in: