The 20-week scan is an exciting moment for many pregnant women. The opportunity to see your baby on screen again, and perhaps to find out if you’re having a boy or a girl. As well as being an exciting moment, it’s also an important one. This is the scan where the sonographer checks to make sure that the baby is developing normally and there are no abnormalities. A scan that can help to save your baby’s life.
My eldest daughter was born with a complex congenital heart defect (CHD) that was detected at the 20-week scan. Had that scan not picked up her heart defect, she would not be here today. Early detection of her heart defect meant that she was able to have the surgery she needed in order to survive within hours of her being born. In fact, she had her first surgery before she was even born.
While the in-utero surgery that helped save my daughter’s life is incredibly rare, CHDs are much more common than many expectant parents realise. One in every 125 babies is born with a heart problem – 5000 babies per year in the UK alone. Out of those babies, approximately a third come home with an undetected and potentially life-threatening congenital heart defect. CHDs are the biggest cause of death from a birth defect and kill twice as many children each year as all childhood cancers combined.
Early diagnosis of heart defects at the 20-week scan gives babies a better chance of survival and long-term quality of life. It means that the baby can be monitored closely during the rest of the pregnancy, and helps ensure that the right medical expects are on hand when the baby is born. It means that life-saving treatment and surgery can take place as soon as possible. It also helps give parents time to prepare, to learn more about their child’s heart condition and to access the support they will need.
Tiny Tickers, the baby’s heart charity, wants to make sure that every baby is given the best possible start by increasing understanding of the real reason for the 20-week scan and why it is so important. It’s one of the most in-depth health checks a baby will have while it is in the womb and it is the best opportunity to pick up a heart defect before the baby is born.
Tiny Tickers have created an online quiz at www.think20.org.uk where you can test how much you know about the 20-week scan. At the end of the quiz, you can also request an information pack which will give mums-to-be a check list on the important questions to ask the sonographer at the 20-week scan in order to help improve early detection rates.
Please take a moment to take part in the Think 20. Think HEART quiz and then share it on your Facebook or Twitter. Together we can build vital awareness and help improve survival rates for heart babies.
You can also read more about the signs and symptoms of a possible undetected heart defect in a newborn here.
This post was written in support of the Tiny Tickers Big Tick campaign purely through my own personal wish to raise awareness of CHDs. I have not been compensated for writing this post.