Ultrasound scans are important during pregnancy for several reasons. They are a good way of finding out how advanced a pregnancy is, and when your due date is likely to be. They can tell you the sex of your baby, too. Most importantly, an ultrasound scan is the earliest and safest way of detecting certain abnormalities such as Down’s syndrome and spina bifida. If one of these abnormalities is detected, one or more other tests may be needed to confirm it.
What Kinds of Abnormalities can an Ultrasound Detect?
Ultrasounds can detect several different abnormalities
- The Nuchal translucency scan, typically at 12 to 14 weeks, is used to detect Down’s syndrome, Edwards’ syndrome, and Patau’s syndrome.
- The general abnormality scan at 20 to 22 weeks detects problems such as spina bifida, ancencephaly, and heart abnormalities.
- The general abnomality scan also checks that the baby’s organs are developing normally, and that the placenta is healthy.
What Happens when an Abnormality is Detected?
If a problem is found or suspected during an ultrasound, the first step is that the sonographer doing the ultrasound may seek a second opinion. This is usually from another member of staff working in the same clinic or hospital.
The next step is that additional tests may be offered, to confirm whether or not the suspected problem really exists. The types of tests involved depend on which abnormality is suspected.
For instance, if Down’s syndrome is suspected, additional tests may include non-invasive prenatal testing
(NIPT). This is a blood test that can help confirm if a baby has Down’s syndrome. If this result indicates a high risk of Down’s syndrome, a woman can choose to have the diagnosis confirmed with a more invasive test such as an amniocentesis. In this test, a sample of amniotic fluid is drawn off, so that fetal cells can be tested for the chromosomal change that indicates Down’s syndrome.
The Birth Company Helps You Make Choices with Confidence
When an ultrasound scan detects an abnormality, the sonographer or doctor will provide more information about additional diagnostic tests so that you can decide whether to have them or not. This is important not just for diagnosing the problem, but also because some additional tests may be more invasive than the ultrasound. You’ll be able to discuss these tests with your obstetrician, midwife, or other consultant, as well as your partner or family members, before you make your choice.
These are not easy decisions to make. It’s important to have as much information as possible, so you can make choices that feel right to you. To help you make those choices, The Birth Company
is open every day of the week, with next-day appointments and same-day results available.