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Neck fold measurement can provide initial indications of a possible gene effect or other diseases. However, this method is not considered to be particularly reliable. What the values of the neck fold measurement mean and what you should know about this examination, you will find in this article!
What Is A Neck Fold Measurement?
The nuchal fold measurement – also called nuchal translucency measurement – is a procedure that belongs to prenatal diagnostics. It can detect indications of a genetic disease in your baby. However, the value of the nuchal fold measurement offers quite little information. Only in combination with other methods can more precise information about the state of health of your baby be obtained. Even with this method, it is not a very reliable method, but much more than a rough risk assessment.
What Is The Nuchal Fold?
The nuchal fold refers to the part between the skin and the soft tissue in the neck, just above the spine. In this area, there is an accumulation of fluid. This fold can be seen by ultrasound only at a certain stage of pregnancy. Only between the 11th and 14th SSW is it possible to see a black space on the ultrasound image. Before and after this time, this is no longer possible. Why does fluid accumulate in the nuchal fold in the first place? During this time, of course, your baby’s development is not yet complete. According to this, the lymphatic system and the kidneys are responsible for the formation of fluid at this point.
Can This Method Harm My Baby?
The nuchal fold measurement belongs to the methods of prenatal diagnostics. These are also divided into invasive and non-invasive methods. The difference lies in whether actual intervention is performed (invasive) or not (non-invasive). Since the neck fold measurement belongs to the non-invasive methods, there is no risk involved in the examination. Neither for you, nor for your baby.
When Should I Consider Neck Fold Measurement?
As you already know, the period between the 11th and 14th week of pregnancy is the best time to have a neck fold measurement. But why exactly this period? Before the 11th week of gestation, your baby is still too small to allow an accurate measurement. From the 14th week of gestation, the fluid is reduced bit by bit. Therefore, it would be difficult to get a meaningful result.
How Does a Nuchal Fold Measurement Proceed?
In the so-called nuchal fold or nuchal translucency measurement, the nuchal fold is measured by ultrasound at its widest point. The ultrasound examination can be performed via the abdominal wall or vaginally.
What Information Do The Values Give Me?
If the examination indicates a value of the nuchal fold of 1 to 2.5 mm, experts speak of a normal value. If the nuchal fold has a value above 3 mm, it is considered thickened. If the value exceeds 6 mm, the nuchal fold is severely thickened. What does this mean?
A strongly thickened nuchal fold can indicate possible diseases:
- Trisomy 21, 18 and 13 (chromosomal abnormalities)
- Heart defect
- Diaphragmatic hernia (organs are displaced from the abdominal cavity to the chest)
- Disturbed lymphatic drainage (Disturbed ratio of fluid accumulation in the tissues and efficiency of the lymphatic channels. Severe swelling may occur)
- Fetal anemia (anemia of the blood)
- Hypoproteinemia (lack of protein in blood plasma)
As you already know, a neck fold measurement by itself is not very conclusive. In most cases, invasive follow-up examinations are necessary to obtain a clear result. These examinations are associated with surgery.
What Costs Can I Expect?
The costs for a neck wrinkle measurement are not covered by health insurance. It does not count as a routine examination and therefore does not fall under the maternity guidelines. If you decide to have a neck fold measurement, you should expect costs of up to 200 euros. This is only an average value. The cost of the examination varies from gynecologist to gynecologist. You should also get comprehensive advice before an examination. Do not be afraid to ask questions. This is the only way your doctor can take away your fear.
How Do I Deal With A Finding?
If your doctor does find evidence of an illness in your baby, this should not worry you immediately. As you know, this test is not very reliable. To be on the safe side, you can consider other tests. A blood test or an amniocentesis are offered in most cases. But be careful! Both of these tests are so-called invasive methods. This means that there will be an intervention. Especially with the amniocentesis there can be some risks. In the worst case, even to a miscarriage. Depending on the results of the amniocentesis, you should first have a detailed consultation with your partner. For example, whether you want to take advantage of any treatments. In addition, you should not disregard the advice of your doctor. In addition, you can also get help with a special consultation.
Neck Wrinkle Measurement – Really Necessary?
Basically, it is up to you to decide whether you want to have a neck wrinkle measurement or not. Do not let yourself be pushed or persuaded to make a decision and inform yourself thoroughly first. Even before the examination, you should consider what it would mean for you to have a child with a gene effect or other impairment. However, you should also be aware that this is not a completely reliable diagnosis. A nuchal fold measurement by itself is only a statistical probability. Only in combination with other examinations it becomes more informative. In this case, however, the risk of complications is also greater. This distinction should therefore be well considered.