Posts Tagged ‘blood work’

Screening for birth defects

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

At my last prenatal appointment I had a combination of tests done to screen for birth defects such as Down syndrome and Trisomy 13 and 18. I was nervous going, but my husband was with me for support. My visit started with an ultrasound. The doctor rubbed a hand-held device (called a transducer) across my belly. The baby was face up and the doctor needed him/her to turn to the side in order to measure the thickness at the back of the neck (called nuchal translucency).  We waited and waited, but he/she wouldn’t budge. I certainly didn’t mind because I was able to admire the beautiful image on the screen longer.

After several minutes, the doctor finally called for a nurse. She brought me a very sweet orange drink and the doctor said he would be back in less than 10 minutes. I was thinking, “yeah right, this isn’t going to work.” Well, wouldn’t you know it. When he came back and put the transducer on my belly, there it was — the most perfect profile. I guess the baby just needed a little energy. Using the mouse on the ultrasound machine, he was able to measure the back of the neck.

Then I was passed off to the nurse who took a blood sample. I don’t know if this is always the case with maternal blood screening, but she pricked my finger and placed about 5 or 6 drops of blood on a card. The office sent the blood sample to a lab and I would get the results back in about four days. The lab calculated my risk of chromosomal birth defects, using the combined results of my blood test and ultrasound exam.

I received a call a few days later. I was told that based on my age, blood work and ultrasound my risk for Down syndrome was 1 in 1, 610 and my risk for Trisomy 18/13 was 1 in > 10,000. I know that no test can gaurantee the birth of a healthy baby, but I was so relieved. It’s always nice to here reassuring news. Waiting for test results can be so stressful.

Have you had your thyroid tested?

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

I recently attended a presentation where an endocrinologist spoke about the importance of the hormonal function of the thyroid and its relation to pregnancy. Sounds like a snoozer, I know, but it was pretty interesting. One of the most important things I learned was that the test for thyroid function is not universally offered, even though there is a large percentage of women that have a thyroid problem and do not know it. My doctor included it as part of the blood work at my recent visit.

A untreated thyroid disorder during pregnancy is a danger to both mom and baby. For mothers, the risks include a pregnancy-related form of high blood pressure (called preeclampsia) and other pregnancy complications. For babies, the risks include preterm birth, decreased mental abilities, thyroid disorder and even death. But with proper treatment, most women with thyroid disorders can have a healthy baby.

As I part of your prenatal checkup, or initial pregnancy visit, ask your doctor about whether or not you should be tested. This is even more important if you have a family history of thyroid problems or preterm birth.