The first trimester screening /12-week ultrasound / nuchal translucency scan.
This ultrasound can be offered for Down syndrome screening and/or as a check for structural problems major enough to show up this early. The uptake for this scan is very high. It was introduced because this has been shown to be the most accurate stage of pregnancy for Down’s screening, but many types of problems can show up at this scan, and it is an important check of the pregnancy. Down syndrome is a common condition causing mental handicap and a higher rate of physical problems. Screening tests for Down syndrome and other chromosome problems are offered because definitive tests exist can be offered for those found to be high risk. The blood test accompanying the 12-week scan is more accurate if done at 10 weeks. This also allows us to give you the result on the day.
Even if the newer NIPT (non-invasive prenatal near-diagnostic blood tests) are performed, the first trimester screening ultrasound is still recommended.
Some women may legitimately want the scan as an early general check without wanting Down’s screening, but it is important to be aware that it is difficult to ignore findings such as nuchal thickening if they are marked.
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