Detecting Danger in Newborns
Reported August 22, 2007
TORONTO, Canada (Ivanhoe Broadcast News) — Fetal anemia is a dangerous pregnancy complication that can wreak havoc on unborn babies. Detecting the condition in the womb is vital, but it takes an invasive procedure to do so. Now, there may be an easier way to spot the condition in moms and babies.
Little Warren is Jacintha and Michael Doners pride and joy. But while pregnant with him, Jacintha learned her RH negative blood didnt mix well with Warrens RH positive blood.
Basically, what is happening is your blood is attacking the babys blood because it thinks its a foreign antibody in your body, Jacintha says.
The babies with moderate or severe anemia can develop heart failure in-utero and actually die in the uterus, says Gareth Seaward, M.D., a maternal fetal medicine specialist at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, Canada.
According to Dr. Seaward, most women are given ultrasounds at specific points throughout their pregnancy. If fetal anemia is suspected, doctors may recommend performing an amniocentesis.
It is not a benign procedure, Dr. Seaward says. We normally quote the women at least a 1 percent risk of losing the pregnancy each time we do an amniocentesis.
Now, Dr. Seaward uses a Doppler ultrasound to detect the condition. This ultrasound measures blood flow in a major brain artery.
The more anemic the fetus, the less circulating red blood cells there are, the less viscous the blood is, the faster it moves, Dr. Seaward says. His most recent study reveals the Doppler ultrasound is better at finding fetal anemia than traditional amniocentesis. It is probably the most important research I have done to date, and I am not sure that I am going to be able to eclipse that, he says.
Now that Jacintha is pregnant with her second child, she gets a Doppler ultrasound every week to make sure her new little one is just as healthy as the first.
The difference between a Doppler ultrasound and an amniocentesis is night and day, she says.
If you would like more information, please contact:
Patient Care Specialist
Mount Sinai Hospital
Toronto, ON, Canada