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The first major health check-up for your baby.
In the third month, your baby is still tiny, just 10 cm tall. Even so, thanks to modern medicine, a lot can already be found out about your baby's health at this stage.
First trimester screening uses a combination of test methods to determine your child's individual risk of developing a chromosomal disorder.
This risk calculation gives you security when deciding for or against an amniotic fluid test. Because the only way to safely rule out a chromosomal disorder is to analyze the chromosomes of embryonic cells. In order to gain this, a puncture of the amniotic sac or the placenta is necessary - an operation which in rare cases can trigger a miscarriage. The first trimester screening, on the other hand, is completely safe for you and your baby.
This examination is not an obligation, but a recommendation.
Many women find it extremely important to find out more about their unborn baby. Not only so that you can feel safe, but also so that in an emergency you can be prepared for what is in store for you. The examination is particularly recommended for late-giving mothers aged 35 and over. From this age onwards, the statistical possibility of a chromosomal disorder in pregnancy increases by leaps and bounds. The first trimester screening calculates how high or how low your risk is of having a child with a chromosomal disorder. However, this investigation does not provide absolute certainty about this. Parents who want to be absolutely sure that their offspring will be chromosomally healthy must resort to the puncture.
We do not rely on one result, but examine many parameters.
Your child's individual risk of a chromosomal disorder is calculated using the following parameters:
- Your own age
- the gestational age according to ultrasound (determined on the basis of the crown-rump length)
- the height of the fetal neck transparency (neck fold) measured by means of ultrasound
- the levels of the pregnancy hormones PAPP-A and free beta-hCG in your blood.
Further parameters can also provide information:
- the fetal nasal bone
- the fetal heart
- fetal blood flow tests
- the weight of the mother
- Information about previous pregnancies.
A low neck transparency of up to 2.4 mm is considered inconspicuous. Values above this can indicate a chromosomal disorder or other diseases, such as a heart defect. If there is a chromosomal disorder, the pregnancy hormones PAPP-A and free beta-hCG also show abnormal values in most cases. From a risk calculation based on the age of the mother and the transparency of the neck, a detection rate for a chromosomal disorder of around 80% is possible. By additionally including the serum parameters PAPP-A and free beta-hCG, the detection rate can be increased to over 90%.
If everything isn't good, that doesn't mean everything has to be bad.
If your calculation reveals an increased risk of a chromosomal disorder in your child, you will be advised for further clarification by puncturing the uterine cake or the amniotic sac, as only the chromosome analysis of embryonic cells provides precise information about a possible chromosomal defect.
However, if you do not want to take the risk of a puncture, there is the possibility of further ultrasound examinations during the course (for example in the 17th and 22nd week of pregnancy) to obtain more detailed information about possible malformations of your child.
However, increased neck transparency is not always associated with a malformation. Perfectly healthy children are also born who showed increased neck transparency in early pregnancy.
Look your baby in the eye: the nicest side of first trimester screening.
The first trimester screening is usually an impressive experience for the parents-to-be: For the first time, you can see in detail what your baby looks like and how it moves. Maybe it's sucking your thumb? Maybe it has the hiccups? Maybe it will even look in your direction?
An event that further increases the anticipation of the new family member and builds a personal relationship with him.
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