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The Other Ultrasounds

theotherultrasounds.jpgAll ultrasound systems help in determining the following:

~ Determining the age of the baby
~ Analyzing development of the baby
~ Evaluating multiple pregnancies
~ Detecting structural problem with uterus
~ Detecting placental abnormalities
~ Detecting abnormal bleeding
~ Determining ectopic pregnancy
~ Detecting ovarian tumor/fibroids
~ Locating the placenta

But aside from the usual trans-vaginal ultrasounds (done early in the pregnancy to determine if there is a baby growing inside you) and pelvic ultrasounds (performed during the second and third trimester), there are three other specialized ultrasounds you may choose to have or that may be prescribed for you to get in the course of your pregnancy:

The 4D ultrasound
The latest in ultrasound technology, this type allows live action images of the unborn child. For 20-40 minutes, you can watch your baby smile and turn in living color. Usually, you also get a video or printed shots. Keepsake clinics where these can be gotten (aside from hospitals) are generally strictly-monitored, with this ultrasound having to be medically ordered/required (usually tied up with a congenital anomaly scan) and performed by a licensed sonologist. Usually performed between the 20th-27th week.

the congenital anomaly scan/screening
This is a very detailed scan where special attention is given on the fetus’ body parts. It can also detect possible congenital anomalies with varying detection percentages like Spina Bifida (90%), Anencephaly (99%), Hydrocephalus (60%), Congenital heart disease (60%), Exomphalos /gastroschisis (90%), Major kidney problems (85%), Major limb abnormalities (90%), Diaphragmatic Hernia (65%), Cleft lip and palate (80%) and Down Syndrome (50%). It is also performed between the 20th-27th week of pregnancy.

biophysical profile (BPP)
A BPP is usually performed in the last trimester of a pregnancy, often ordered for women with high-risk pregnancies. This test measures the health of the fetus by measuring the baby’s heart rate, muscle tone, movement, breathing, and the amount of amniotic fluid around the baby.

High-risk pregnancies or strong illness histories could prompt your OB to order the above, whether you like it or not. But parents also have a choice to request for a 4D ultrasound or congenital anomaly scan. However, it will be good to note of the controversies surrounding these two.

Some from the medical field believe that a 4D ultrasound usually has “non-medical indications”, after all, having a keepsake usually overwhelms the true purpose of the ultrasound for the expectant parents. Obstetricians are also divided when it comes to congenital anomaly scans since it does not really offer guarantees, something that was detected now could still mend itself in due time or something could not be detected at all.

Such scans purport to forewarn about possible medical problems a baby might have so parents can deal with it accordingly, like having a heart doctor ready for a baby detected to have a heart anomaly. But it also raises the issue of depression among parents during a time when ignorance could may very well be bliss (e.g. in minor cases as a cleft palate which wouldn’t require URGENT surgery or intervention, but would nonetheless burst the expectant parents’ happy bubble). And in case there is a major anomaly detected, like Down’s Syndrome, will the parents abort the baby? Can they still enjoy the pregnancy knowing they are to expect a child with disabilities? Will they have anyone to support them?

Thus, it is very important for parents to talk about the negative possibilities and their implications first before getting such tests.

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