“INCREASED RISK OF NEURAL TUBE DEFECT” – WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

Is there something wrong with my baby?

The above blood result does not necessarily indicate that there is something wrong with your baby.  The screening test, which is designed to assess if there is a greater than expected chance (an increased risk) of the fetus having a neural tube defect.  A positive result serves as a guide that there is a small chance (1 in 30) the fetus might have a neural tube defect. It does not mean that your baby definitely has a neural tube defect.

At this stage, the only answer is that one should consider further testing.  In 9 out of every 10 pregnancies reported as being at increased risk of neural tube defect, continue to deliver a normal healthy baby without a neural tube defect

 What is a neural tube defect?

Neural tube defects (NDT) are rare but serious abnormalities, which occur in the early development of the fetus.  It is not known what causes them. The two most common types are anencephaly (not compatible with live) and spina bifida.

 Further assessment to confirm the diagnosis

A detailed ultrasound scan to assess the fetal head and spine enable the diagnosis of NTD.  This is a safe procedure with no residue effect on the fetus.  It examines the physical features (structures) of the fetus.  If the fetal head and spine look normal on ultrasound scan, the chances of a NTD is very low. The ultrasound scan can detect fetus with NTD most of the time (sensitivity over 90%).

 Must I have further testing?

The option of further testing (detail ultrasound scan) following the result of increases risk for NTD is by choice.  It is helpful to discuss with the doctor looking after the pregnancy before making an informed decision.

 

 

 

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Author: Dr Ng Soon Pheng

Dr. Ng Soon Pheng MD(USM), M.Med (O&G), Fellow Reprod Medicine (Singapore), AM (Mal) Dr. Ng Soon Pheng qualified from University Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Malaysia. After obtaining his post graduate degree, Dr. Ng Soon Pheng continued his clinical fellowship training in the field of IVF in Singapore. He was also the recipient of Yayasan Sultan Iskandar (Johor) Scholarship for the fellowship stint. Dr. Ng Soon Pheng has more than 10 years of working experience in the field of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in the public and university hospital, with special interests in infertility. He was an Associate Professor with the Department of O&G in Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) specialising in infertility. Dr. Ng Soon Pheng is currently Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist with special interests in infertility at Columbia Asia Hospital - Puchong.