The Nuchal Translucency Test

The nuchal translucency (NT) test is an ultrasound screening for genetic abnormalities which is scheduled between 11 weeks 4 days and 14 weeks 3 days.    The test measures the fold of skin at the back of the baby's neck which reflects fluid accumulation in that area.  If the fold is within a certain range (generally higher than 3mm), the risk of genetic abnormality  (Down syndrome, trisomy 18 or trisomy 13) is higher and CVS or amnio may be requested to diagnose or rule out a problem.  The NT results are combined with blood test information and age to generate a risk ratio.   

When I had my genetic screening, the nurse warned me that the ratio would come back with a high risk of genetic abnormality due to my age which was 44.  I asked why the screening didn't just depend on the pure science of the test results.  She told me that age is a large factor in abnormalities and is figured in heavily with this screening tool.  She told me not to worry because almost every woman over 40 has a screening with high risk ratios. 

I was thrilled and surprised when my results came back in the "normal" rather than "elevated " risk range.  I was given the option of moving ahead with CVS or amnio but did not based on the normal results from both the triple test and the NT test.  I delivered a healthy baby girl at full term. 

It is important to note that many insurance companies do not cover the NT test so check with yours before you schedule the test.   NT is valuable because it is non invasive and does not carry the miscarriage risk that amnio or CVS carry.  On the flip side, NT is only a screening and does not provide the more conclusive results of amnio or CVS.

For more information, check out these links with discussions about high NT results and general NT information.  


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