Congenital heart disease (CHD) is a disorder in a baby’s heart which is present at birth. It is one of the most common type of birth defects. Fetal echo or fetal echocardiogram is an ultrasound test which is used by doctors to check for congenital heart disease in unborn babies.
The heart of a baby begins to form shortly after conception and is completed by the eighth week of pregnancy. The heart starts off as a tube-like structure that twists and separates into the heart and heart valves. A congenital heart disease occurs when the heart does not twist or divide properly at birth.
1. What is Fetal Echo?
2. How Does Fetal Echo Impact Your Health?
What is Fetal Echo?
A fetal echocardiogram is a comprehensive ultrasound of the unborn baby’s heart. A transducer is a small camera that emits ultrasonic sound waves, which is put on the expecting mother’s abdomen.
The ultrasound waves bounce off the baby’s heart, and are transmitted back to the camera, which provides a moving image of the heart’s various sections for the doctor to analyse. Blood flow throughout the baby’s heart can also be detected using sound waves. This allows the doctor to assess the unborn baby’s heart’s anatomy and function.
You or your baby will not experience any discomfort or harm as a result of this test. Because of the complexity of an infant’s developing heart and the number of things a doctor is looking for, it normally takes between 30 minutes and 2 hours to complete this procedure.
This is like any other ultrasound which is performed during your pregnancy with the only distinction being that it is only used to examine your baby’s heart and not any other structures.
Before going through with the test, it is important to provide as much information as you can about your family heart history, your own heart defects if any, your medical records or any other details that may be required.
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Fetal Echo is an important procedure during your pregnancy because it is essential to diagnose CHD as early as possible. Congenital heart defects can be mild as well as severe. A mild CHD may be a hole in your baby’s heart, while a more severe case may have missing parts.
Some may require surgical repair while the baby is still in the womb, while others may heal on their own over time. Getting an early diagnosis can help your pediatric cardiologist counsel you on the severity of the heart problem in your child.
How Does Fetal Echo Impact Your Health?
Both the mother and the baby are safe during fetal echo. There are no substantial dangers associated with this sort of ultrasound because it uses no radiation. However, failing to complete a suggested test like this could put your baby at risk after birth.
If your health care provider does not recommend a fetal echo but you want the peace of mind that an ultrasound can bring, let them know your wishes so you can work together to figure out what’s best for you and your baby.
Fetal echo has its own set of constraints though. It may not be able to detect all birth problems or may inaccurately indicate the presence of a birth defect when it is not there.
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