July 20, 2024

The rise of heart defects and problems among children is a concerning issue that needs to be addressed and in order to prevent deformities and ensure the overall well-being of children, anomaly scans during pregnancy play a crucial role. These scans can detect any potential abnormalities or defects in the developing fetus, including heart defects.

Promoting children's health amid rising heart defects: Why and when to do Anomaly Scans during pregnancy (File Photo)
Promoting children’s health amid rising heart defects: Why and when to do Anomaly Scans during pregnancy (File Photo)

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Sunita Dube, Radiologist and Founder of Medscape India, revealed, “Anomaly scans, also known as ultrasound scans, are typically performed around the 20th week of pregnancy. They are a detailed examination of the fetus that helps to identify any structural abnormalities in various organs, including the heart. By detecting heart defects early on, parents can be adequately prepared to seek appropriate medical care and interventions for their children after birth.”

She explained, “Regular sonography throughout the pregnancy is essential as it allows healthcare professionals to closely monitor the development of the fetus, including the heart. Sonography can help identify any potential issues or anomalies on time, ensuring that appropriate measures are taken to address them. In India, as in many other countries, there is a lack of comprehensive statistical data on the prevalence of children’s heart defects. However, it is estimated that approximately 8 out of every 1000 live births in India are affected by congenital heart defects.”

Dr Sunita Dube elaborated, “These defects can vary in severity, ranging from minor conditions that may not require immediate intervention to complex defects that necessitate surgical procedures. Improving access to comprehensive data on children’s heart defects in India is essential for developing effective strategies to prevent and manage these conditions. Enhanced surveillance systems can help identify trends, risk factors, and potential interventions to reduce the incidence of heart defects.”

Why and When to Do Anomaly Scan?

Dr Sunita Dube answered, “Anomaly scan, also known as an ultrasound scan or a level 2 ultrasound, is a medical test performed during pregnancy. It is typically carried out between the 18th to 22nd week of pregnancy. The main purpose of anomaly scans is to check for any structural abnormalities or birth defects in the developing fetus. This article will explore why and when anomaly scans are necessary.”

According to her, following are the reasons why Anomaly Scan is important:

  1. Identifying Birth Defects: One of the primary reasons for doing an anomaly scan is to detect any birth defects or structural abnormalities in the baby. This scan allows healthcare professionals to examine the fetus in detail and look for any signs of abnormalities in the brain, spine, heart, kidneys, limbs, or other organs. Early detection of birth defects in case of major deformities and legal age to abort the baby is considered and gives parents a chance to prepare emotionally and financially for any necessary medical interventions or postnatal care.
  2. Assessing Growth and Development: Anomaly scan also provides valuable information about the growth and development of the baby. It allows healthcare professionals to measure the size and position of the baby, assess the amniotic fluid levels, and check the placenta’s health and functionality. This information helps in ensuring that the baby is developing properly.
  3. Evaluation of Organs and Systems: The anomaly scan allows healthcare professionals to evaluate the various organs and systems of the baby’s body to ensure they are functioning normally. It helps in identifying any potential problems with the heart, brain, kidney, or any other organs. This information can guide healthcare providers in determining the best course of action for the well-being of both the mother and the baby.
  4. Assessing the Risk of Chromosomal Abnormalities: While an anomaly scan does not directly diagnose chromosomal abnormalities such as Down syndrome, it can help assess the risk of such conditions. Certain anatomical markers visible during the scan may indicate an increased likelihood of chromosomal abnormalities. In such cases, further diagnostic tests such as amniocentesis or genetic testing can be recommended to confirm or rule out the presence of such conditions.

When to Do an Anomaly Scan?

Dr Sunita Dube shared, “The ideal time for an anomaly scan is between the 18th to 20th week of pregnancy. This time frame ensures that the fetus has developed enough for a detailed examination while still providing enough time for intervention or planning in case any abnormalities are detected. However, anomaly scans can be performed later in the pregnancy if necessary. It is important to note that the anomaly scan is not a mandatory test, but it is strongly recommended by gynecologists to prevent any gross defects. The decision to undergo an anomaly scan should be discussed with your Gynac taking into consideration factors such as medical history, maternal age, family history of birth defects, monitoring growth of baby, and other relevant factors.”

She added, “In some cases, follow-up and additional scans may be recommended based on individual circumstances. For example, if the baby has a higher risk of chromosomal abnormalities due to advanced maternal age or family history, additional scans or tests may be advised. The rise of heart defects and problems among children highlights the importance of anomaly scans and regular sonography during pregnancy. Early detection of heart defects can help prevent deformities and ensure appropriate medical care for affected children. Improving data collection and surveillance systems in India will be instrumental in understanding the prevalence and trends of children’s heart defects, leading to better prevention and management strategies. It is typically performed between the 18th to 22nd week of pregnancy and the decision to undergo the scan should be based on a discussion with your healthcare provider. Detecting any potential problems early on can help parents make informed decisions about their pregnancy and plan for the future. Fetal abnormalities: If there are substantial fetal abnormalities detected abortion can be considered under the MTP Act.”


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