Congenital birth anomalies are not uncommon in babies and 6 – 10% of the children are born with abnormalities. Previously, the abnormalities used to be diagnosed only after the birth of the baby which comes as a rude shock to the unsuspecting young parents who are totally unprepared for such an event.
Technological advances made it possible now, to diagnose these abnormalities in the womb itself. Ultrasound examination, MRI test is very useful. A host of tests like amniotic fluid sampling, biopsy, cell cultures may diagnose many genetic and blood diseases.
Pregnant women need to go through routine Ultrasound Scans:
It is usually recommended to undergo an Abnormalities scan at 16 – 18 weeks of pregnancy to detect these anomalies. The timing is important because, in the event of a very serious and bad prognosis disease, medical termination of pregnancy is an option which can be exercised as per current law, only till 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Advantages of opting for routine Ultrasounds:
The advantages of detecting these anomalies early on are many. The parents would have the understanding of curability of the disease, when should the baby be operated, where they should be operated, what are the likely results, what are the costs involved and what are the effects of the disease on the baby in the long term. Decisions also may be made as to the method of delivery and where should the delivery be conducted. It is easy and safe to transport the mother to a hospital equipped to operate on the baby in the newborn period rather than shifting the sick baby in the newborn period.
Let’s Discuss a Case Study:
I will discuss, for example, one common condition diagnosed in the womb. Two percent of babies have dilatation of kidneys in utero which is the commonest condition diagnosed. Depending on the size of swelling, advice may be provided as to how early surgery may be required after birth. There are many causes of such kidney swelling which may be successfully treated after birth if it does not resolve spontaneously.