The 20-week ultrasound is the much-anticipated “gender reveal” ultrasound for many. It’s so exciting! But there are certain questions to ask at anomaly scan. What many women don’t realize is how crucial this anatomy ultrasound is in determining your baby’s overall health. If you only have time for one ultrasound during your pregnancy, this is the one.
The most common birth defect and the leading cause of infant mortality are Congenital Heart Defects (CHD). It is not always detectable on ultrasound, but the majority of the more serious defects can. So, as you prepare for this appointment, be excited about the gender reveal, but also be prepared to ask questions about your baby’s heart.
What questions should you ask during your 20-week ultrasound?
At this age, all of the body’s structures are finally visible. Do not fail to ask the following questions to your fetal medicine specialist.
Is the baby’s organ development normal?
The sonographer will examine the following aspects of your baby’s growth during the scan: Weight and height: The baby should weigh about nine ounces and eight inches long.
Face: Between the fourth and seventh weeks of pregnancy, the baby’s lips form. A doctor will check for defects such as cleft lip, which is an opening on one or both sides of the lip.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 4,440 babies are born with a cleft lip—with or without cleft palate (CDC).
Brain: Although conditions affecting the brain, such as anencephaly, are uncommon, consult your doctor to ensure that everything is in order.
Spine: A normal baby should have a spine with all of its bones aligned. The ultrasound can detect spina bifida, also known as the cleft spine, at this point.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, it is one of the most common neural tube defects in the United States.
Heart: As an added bonus, the baby still has enough room to move around for the entire body to be visible (if they cooperate). The baby’s heart is about the size of your thumbnail at 20 weeks. So small!
It should have two upper chambers and two lower chambers with a heart rate between 120 and 160 beats per minute.
Four other critical questions that you should question about your baby’s heart are;
- Are all four chambers visible and operational?
- Do the main vessels leading out of the heart cross each other?
- Are the walls between the heart chambers intact and free of holes?
- Are all of the heart’s valves visible and functional?
Kidneys: At 20 weeks, a baby should have two kidneys.
Limbs: The baby’s legs, arms, fingers, and toes should be fully formed at this point. Ultrasound is capable of.
Is the placenta still in good health?
A low placenta is not a problem in early pregnancy. The problem usually resolves itself as the baby grows and your uterus expands, pulling the placenta upwards.
If your placenta remains low in the womb, this could be a sign of placenta previa, a condition in which the placenta is located in the lowest part of the uterus. The placenta can obstruct the opening of the birth canal, causing complications during delivery.
According to the US National Library of Medicine, this condition affects one out of every 200 pregnancies and is more common in women who begin their pregnancies later in life.
Is there any evidence of Down syndrome?
Even if no one in your family has Down syndrome, our doctors at Jammi Scans recommend getting screened. We have the best fetal medicine specialist who does obstetric scans, interventional procedures, and gynecology scans.
Our doctor should also screen during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy to ensure an accurate screening with a detection rate of 90 to 95 percent. If any of the following signs are detected during the 20-week ultrasound, your doctor may order additional tests to confirm the diagnosis:
- Thickening of the skin behind the baby’s neck
- Heart flaws
- Blockages in the intestine
Should I be concerned if the ultrasound reveals anything abnormal?
Ultrasounds are not the most reliable way to make an accurate diagnosis. During the scan, the baby was not always in a good position.
If the doctor suspects a problem based on your ultrasound, she or he will order additional tests to examine the baby’s development in greater detail.
An ultrasound at 20 weeks can reveal important information about your baby’s health and development. You and our fetal medicine expert at the Jammi Scans can work together to ensure that your baby receives the best possible care.
Contact our team to know more. We hope to see you at the Centre for Women’s Ultrasound.