How do I find out if a nuchal fold scan is available in my area, and at what stage in pregnancy to have one?

Nuchal scans are offered as a way of screening for Down's syndrome, and are performed between 11 and 14 weeks of pregnancy, usually in combination with a blood test. The best way to find out about nuchal scans is to telephone your local Maternity Department-if they do not offer these scans, they should be able to advise you where they might be available. From 2009, national guidance suggests that every woman should be offered a combined nuchal scan.
What does a nuchal scan show?

"Nuchal" means neck; nuchal ultrasound is carried out at 11 to 14 weeks to look at thickness of a certain area at the back of the fetus'' neck. A particularly thick nuchal pad has been linked with a higher risk of suffering from heart defects, Down syndrome, or some other chromosomal problem. A nuchal scan may follow or be followed by an AFP3, or Triple test, to gain more insight into possible problems. Subsequent amniocentesis, or another invasive diagnostic procedure will help confirm or rule out these problems. Ask your doctor for a complete explanation of all procedures.

What the scan shows The picture shows a normal fetus. The dotted lines indicate where the nuchal pad would be thicker, as in Down syndrome.

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