Up until 13 weeks and 6 days, a pain free ultrasound test can help dismiss any chances of Down syndrome or other potential chromosomal abnormalities through a test called a Nuchal Translucency Scan. Normally an ultrasound is a precautionary scan used to keep tabs on the growth of the unborn babies and determine placenta health, but this scan, normally done between week 11 and the end of week 13, has a specific photo op in mind.
Locating each fetus and zooming in on their necks, the ultrasound technician will snap a number of pictures and take a few measurements of the fluid at the base of the necks to give to the obstetrician, who will compare the thickness of the nuchal translucency to each other as well as a “normal range” measurement. While this measurement can be affected by a number of different situations, such as fetal position and environmental placement of the head in the womb, a generalized area of between 2.18mm and 2.5mm seems to be the middle of the road for the measurement.
Of course there is the fact that the percentage of discovery for Down syndrome and other chromosomal defects is between 62 and 88 percent, but the test, in tandem with a look for the nasal bone during the ultrasound and a simple finger prick blood spot test are non-invasive examinations and can quell some of the anxiety that parents may have. The negative numbers are considerably higher for mothers over 35 years old, but with any examination, false positives are always possible.
Having twins and being told immediately that your pregnancy is automatically “high risk” is stressful to start, but as more and more of these non-invasive tests are created a lot of that stress can either be minimized or possibly worsened as each test day approaches. What many pregnant mothers never see during these ultrasound scans, because they aren’t considered high risk, leaves one thinking if “less information means less stress”
Preparing for these tests is much like any other medical test: It is best to be prepared for the worst, but reading into results as if they are the utmost truth is unhealthy. Take each result seriously, but do not let it ruin the unquestionable truth that you are pregnant with twins and their condition is in your hands. Many test results that show some sort of negative result now, will more than likely work itself out by the next exam, but any emergency issue will be handled by your OB accordingly.
It is not our job as parents of unborn twins to burden ourselves with every possible illness, abnormality, defect or horn growing out of their shoulders. It is our responsibility to continue to stay educated, calm and consistently doing our absolute best to create a healthy environment for our babies to grow into rowdy twins come birth day.
Joel Frieders is a father of one with twins on the way. He started http://www.havingtwinsnow.com as a way to plot his family’s excitement, fears, ideas, education and progression through pregnancy and life as a father of multiples. As of August 17th, 2009, Joel’s wife, Julie, is 13 weeks along and just now starting to feel better after terrible all day morning sickness has ruined her first trimester. Find out more at his blog: http://www.havingtwinsNOW.com