A reader writes:
I offer this in response to the reader who wrote in and said that a ultrasound tech wouldn't see abnormalities to suggest Down's Syndrome: I actually had a ultrasound tech mention to me that they can see a thicker neck, an indication of Down's Syndrome, in an ultrasound.
My husband and I got a abnormal diagnoses on our second's son initial ultrasound, and had to go in for a second, longer ultrasound (with an obviously more trained technician than the first one). We were sweating bullets, waiting to hear something about the baby. This technician looked the baby over for a while, did all the measurements, and finally she said, "Why are you guys here?" When we told her, she reassured us that she saw nothing abnormal. And then she went over the things they can see from an ultrasound, and specifically mentioned Down's Syndrome and the thickness of the fetus' neck. I know that she was not a radiologist, because the radiologist came in later, and did her own ultra-sound to reassure all of us that everything was indeed normal.
Now, I'm sure ultrasound techs don't officially "diagnose" Down's Syndrome, but they can see an indication, and they pass the information on so the doctor can urge an amniocentesis to diagnose. Out of the mind-boggling, bizarre details about Trig's gestation and birth, this bit seems accurate and believable.
A reader who contributed an "It's So Personal" story back in June also touched upon the subject:
About 5 years ago, after a lot of effort, my wife got pregnant with our second child. We did the regular genetic screening (I can't recall the name of the test, but it was just a simple blood test). It came back positive for Down's Syndrome, but only at a slightly higher risk. Our OB/Gyn said the odds for someone my wife's age (27) to have a Down's baby were about 1 in 10,000. The positive test result put the odds closer to 1 in 150. He recommended we go to a doctor who specialized in high-risk pregnancies to confirm there was no problem. She was 5 months along at the time.
During the additional testing, we had an ultrasound done with an amazingly high-tech machine. During the scan we kept asking the tech if she saw anything, but she kept telling us she wasn't legally allowed to say one way or the other. We sat quietly until the end of the test, at which point the tech turned to us and said, "Well, I'm going to be honest with you, because it's the only way I know how to be. I see some problems with the head."
I could hear my wife's breathing quicken, and my hands started to shake uncontrollably. The doctor came in and said he saw holoprosencephaly, which, as we learned, essentially means that the brain did not divide into two hemispheres. In fact, although we were 19 weeks along, the brain had stopped developing at 11 weeks.
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