Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ultrasound misses many heart defects in fetuses

Date:
March 13, 2014
Source:
Linköping Universitet
Summary:
Over six in every ten serious heart defects in fetuses go undetected in the ultrasound scans given to all pregnant women. According to research, one reason why malformations are not found is obesity in the expectant mother. Diagnosis is made more difficult by obesity -- a BMI over 30 -- which is the case for 13% of the mothers.

Ultrasound images are easier to interpret if the apparatus also has “colour Doppler” capability. Here, the red structures show how the blood circulates in the heart chambers of an embryo at the age of 20 weeks.
Credit: Image courtesy of Linköping Universitet

Over six in every ten serious heart defects in fetuses go undetected in the ultrasound scans given to all pregnant women. According to research at Linköping University in Sweden, one reason why malformations are not found is obesity in the expectant mother.

Related Articles


Each year around 2,000 children are born in Sweden with serious malformations, of which almost half are heart defects. Discovering these during the first stage of pregnancy is a major challenge for prenatal healthcare.

"The lives of children born with serious heart defects are in constant danger; some of them need immediate operations or medical treatment. If these defects are detected during the pregnancy the babies can be born in Lund or Gothenburg where the hospital has facilities for child heart surgery," explains Eric Hildebrand, senior physician at the Linköping University Hospital Women's Clinic and also a graduate student in obstetrics and gynaecology at Linköping University.

The basis of his study is an examination of over 21,000 ultrasound scans in the south-east healthcare region in Sweden, covering the counties of Jönköping, Kalmar and Östergötland. In this region all expectant mothers are offered two ultrasound scans, the first in weeks 11-14, and the second in weeks 18-20. In the first scan the midwife dates the pregnancy, looks for the possibility of twins and carries out a general examination of the anatomy of the embryo. In the second scan the organs are screened for malformations.

In the examination the results of the two scans are compared. Not surprisingly, considerably fewer malformations are detected in the first scan. It was particularly difficult to find heart defects. During the eleventh to the fourteenth weeks no defects at all were found, but in the eighteenth to twentieth week, 37% of serious defects were discovered.

One reason for missing malformations is that the ultrasound image is affected by the body of the mother. For example diagnosis is made more difficult by obesity-a BMI over 30-which is the case for 13% of the mothers.

"Subcutaneous fat detracts from the quality of the image, making it more difficult for us to see malformations," says Dr Hildebrand.

The statistics also show that obesity itself increases the risk of conditions like spina bifida, although the increased risk for the individual is small. That makes it extra important to be able to offer good embryo diagnostics for the expectant mother.

In the case of chromosome abnormalities, a thorough examination of the national medical birth register of children born between 1995 and 2010 showed that one in 700 children was born with Downs syndrome. A certain connection with obesity was also seen.

Dr Hildebrand puts forward a couple of important measures for a more trustworthy embryo diagnostic that came out of the in the studies:

  • The methods of detecting heart defects need to be improved. One way is to give midwives additional education and training in interpreting heart images, including with what is known as colour Doppler for blood flow in the heart.
  • The best diagnostic tool for Downs Syndrome is the CUB, or Combined Ultrasound and Biochemical screening test, which works just as well regardless of whether the mother is obese or not.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Linköping Universitet. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Linköping Universitet. "Ultrasound misses many heart defects in fetuses." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140313092226.htm>.
Linköping Universitet. (2014, March 13). Ultrasound misses many heart defects in fetuses. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140313092226.htm
Linköping Universitet. "Ultrasound misses many heart defects in fetuses." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140313092226.htm (accessed November 23, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) — Having children has always been a frightening prospect in Sierra Leone, the world's most dangerous place to give birth, but Ebola has presented an alarming new threat for expectant mothers. Duration: 00:37 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Paralyzed Marine Walks With Robotic Braces

Raw: Paralyzed Marine Walks With Robotic Braces

AP (Nov. 21, 2014) — Marine Corps officials say a special operations officer left paralyzed by a sniper's bullet in Afghanistan walked using robotic leg braces in a ceremony to award him a Bronze Star. (Nov. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins