Nuchal translucency screening is a test that may be done during pregnancy. The test uses ultrasound (sound waves) to take pictures of the baby. It looks at and measures an area of skin and fluid collection on the back of the baby’s neck. This area of the neck is called the nuchal area. The test is used to check the baby’s risk for Down syndrome, heart defects, and other birth defects.
The test is done between the 11th and 14th weeks of pregnancy.
Your healthcare provider may advise you to have this test if:
You will need to drink a lot of fluids to fill your bladder before the test.
During the test, an ultrasound sensor is placed on your belly or in the vagina. Your healthcare provider will measure the area on the back of the baby’s neck. Other measurements may be made as well.
Your healthcare provider will review the test results. The results may be compared with blood tests you have had to check for birth defects. If the test finds a possible problem, then you may need an amniocentesis to check the test results. When you have amniocentesis, a needle is used to take samples from the fluid around the baby.
If the test finds an increased risk for a problem, you will be able to receive counseling and referrals that will help you prepare for the problem. This can include treatment options, support groups, and financial help.
The test does not pose any risks to you or the baby.
Call your healthcare provider if you have any questions about the test results.