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Butte, Mont.,
08:30 AM

20-Week Ultrasound Tips Every Parent Should Know

October is medical ultrasound awareness month. The 20-week ultrasound for parents-to-be is an exciting visit– it’s when they usually find out if they’re having a boy or girl. But parents should know there’s far more importance to the 20-week ultrasound.   

“The 20-week fetal ultrasound is a crucial milestone in prenatal care. In addition to being an opportunity for the parents to figure out the baby's gender if they choose to do so, it is the moment where we ensure the health of the developing baby,” said Ibrahim Hammad, MD, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist with Intermountain Health and St. James Healthcare. “We are able to examine many of the internal organs, including vital structures, and this way it enables a timely medical intervention if necessary.”   

Moms and dads can help in this effort by asking about the images of their baby’s heart, brain, and kidneys. Dr. Hammad recommends asking the sonographer or physician:  

  • "Did you see everything you needed to?”  
  • “Could you rule out problems the baby could be born with?” 
  • “Did you get images to help make sure my baby’s heart, brain, and kidneys are developing normally?” 
Dr. Ibrahim Hammad, MD - Maternal & Fetal Medicine, Intermountain Health

Knowing early really helps us to plan to provide the best care for the baby during the pregnancy and right after the birth instead of waiting for the child to display symptoms.

Dr. Ibrahim Hammad, MD - Maternal & Fetal Medicine, Intermountain Health

If the answer is no or inconclusive, Dr. Hammad recommends asking what next steps to take to ensure the baby’s organs can be viewed appropriately.  In the case that something is found to be wrong with the baby’s heart, for example, a care team will make a plan to ensure the baby gets the best care before and right after birth.  

“Being told to return for more imaging can be anxiety-provoking and nerve-wracking,” he said. “I’d reassure families that most of the time, it’s because the pictures from the ultrasound weren’t clear enough. Most of the time, when we see patients for a return ultrasound, there are no problems detected. Until someone tells you something definitive, try not to worry.”  

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