Fetal echocardiography is a highly specialized form of ultrasound of an unborn fetus (when you are pregnant) for detailed evaluation of the baby’s heart. This helps us to confirm or exclude most of the heart problems in the unborn baby.
How frequent is heart disease in children?
Heart disease occurs in about 8 out of 1,000 normal pregnancies. About half of these are minor problems, which either do not need treatment or can be successfully corrected by surgery. About 3 out of 1,000 pregnancies, have very severe heart problems, some of which are associated with a poor outlook for the baby. A poor outlook can be measured in days, weeks or years depending on the exact problem, but certainly cannot be a normal lifespan.
How is fetal echocardiography performed?
It is performed with help of 2D/3D/4D ultrasound with use of Color Doppler.
At what time of the pregnancy should one opt for fetal echocardiography?
Ideal time is 22-24 weeks. But due to legal constraints of termination of pregnancy in India, it is preferable to do at 19-20 weeks gestation. An early fetal echo (cardiac screening as better said) at 13 weeks or 16 weeks is recommended in some cases.
What to do if my baby has a heart problem?
If your baby has a heart defect, a thorough search of any other structural abnormalities in the unborn will be made because heart defects can be associated with other structural defects. You will be offered an invasive test (amniocentesis) for chromosomal abnormalities if suspected. Then you will be counselled about the severity of the heart defect, possible treatment if any and the expected life span.
Can this heart defect happen in a future pregnancy?
This depends on the type of heart condition diagnosed in your baby. Your cardiologist will normally be able to advise you. If the heart condition is the only problem that your baby has, then there is usually a 1 in 50 chance of it happening again.