Nuchal translucency: what it is and when to do it during pregnancy

The nuchal translucency is an examination that allows to highlight malformations in the fetus: this is how and when to do it during pregnancy

Nuchal translucency is an examination that can be done during pregnancy. It is usually optional, although many doctors recommend it, not only because it is a control without any side effects, but also because it is very useful for discovering the presence of fetal anomalies, developmental deficits and other pathologies. Nuchal translucency was conceived in the nineties by prof. Nicolaides of King's College in London who, thanks to his research, has discovered how the increase in nuchal fluid coincided with the onset of Down syndrome in the fetus.

Nuchal translucency in pregnancy: when and how to do it

Nuchal translucency should be performed between the tenth and thirteenth week of pregnancy. In this period of gestation, in fact, the fetus has now reached the right size to undergo a morphological examination. This exam is essentially a sort of ultrasound that is performed with the use of ultrasounds and allows to analyze the area behind the baby's neck and is highlighted as a dark area between the two "lights" (ie two lines bright). Its growth level is proportional to the risk of congenital and chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus.

When is nuchal translucency necessary? The exam is usually negative in 95% of cases. When there are abnormalities in the fetus, the pregnant woman will have to carry out other more invasive controls and examinations such as villocentesis and amniocentesis. Usually the exam is recommended especially for future mothers who are over 35 years old and who therefore face greater risks for the fetus.

The nuchal translucency is performed together with another test that allows, through a simple blood test, to measure the presence of two substances that are directly related to the chromosomal alterations of the fetus. This is the Free-Beta HCG and the PAPP-A, which should be controlled in all mothers later in life. In any case, before doing nuchal translucency, it would be better to consult your gynecologist to understand when and if to carry out this examination.

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