Anomaly, Not Anatomy: The Real Reason for Mid-Pregnancy Ultrasounds

The mid-pregnancy ultrasound is an exciting time for pregnant women. Those who want to find out the sex of their baby can often find out during this scan, which might be carried out with a portable ultrasound machine by your doctor. If you're preparing for your ultrasound, you need to understand that finding out the sex isn't the purpose, it's just an added bonus. Here are some of the purposes for your mid-pregnancy ultrasound.

Multiple fetuses

If you are carrying more than one baby it could have been overlooked at an earlier ultrasound. If you are having multiples, it will be discovered at your mid-pregnancy ultrasound.

Amniotic fluid

During your ultrasound, your ultrasound technician will check your amniotic fluid levels. Amniotic fluid is essential to your baby's development, and low amniotic fluid is often a cause for concern. Amniotic fluid is created by the baby ingesting the fluid and urinating. Therefore, low amniotic fluid is usually a result of your baby being unable to produce enough of it. Further testing will have to be conducted to find out the exact cause of low fluid; however, at that stage it often means that there is an issue with the baby's kidneys. Only about 8% of women have low amniotic fluid and only half of that percent have cases that are considered serious. The majority of the serious cases occur late during the third trimester with women who are past their due date.

Vital Organs

Besides your baby's kidneys, other vital organs are checked during the mid-pregnancy scan. An ultrasound will show your baby's brain and heart development. The tech can ensure that your baby has proper blood flow, and the liver and other vital organs will be checked as well to ensure everything is the proper size and working normally.

Fetal size

Your entire baby will be measured. The ultrasound tech will measure the baby from the head to its rump, each limb individually, the spine, and the head. This will confirm the baby's gestational age and that it is developing at a proper rate. The individual measurements will ensure that the baby's entire body is developing at a proportionate rate as well.

Markers for Down's Syndrome

Down's syndrome, also known as Trisomy 21, is a condition where a person is born with extra genetic material. Individuals with Down's syndrome have a total of 47 chromosomes instead of 46. Some markers for Down's syndrome can be found during an ultrasound. These makers can include the size of certain bones relative to others, length of feet or ears, arrangement of heart valves, and placement of the ridge of the nasal bone. If you doctor finds several markers for Down's syndrome, he or she could order further tests, including an amniocentesis. All further testing would be subject to your approval. You can always wait until the baby is born to find out for sure.

The mid-pregnancy ultrasound is very exciting. You get to see your baby and possibly find its out sex. Just remember that it's an anomaly scan, not an anatomy scan. Ensuring your baby is healthy is the number one priority.