At about 16 weeks, chances are your OB will suggest you take a Triple Marker Screening, a blood test to assess your risk of having a baby with Down syndrome. But it only identifies 65% of fetuses with the condition, and other exams like amniocentesis carry a 1 in 200 risk of miscarriage. Now a study from the National Institutes of Health offers another option: nuchal translucency.
Between 10 1/2 and 13 weeks, you receive a blood test plus an ultrasound measuring the skin thickness behind the fetus's neck. "With this method, we found 85% to 90% of cases, and the false positive rate was just 5%," says Ronald Wapner, M.D., director of maternal-fetal medicine and reproductive genetics at Hahnemann University in Philadelphia. If you opt for the test, look for a technician certified by the Fetal Medicine Foundation.
Copyright © 2002. Reprinted with permission from the May 2002 issue of Child magazine.
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