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Some abnormalities detected by ultrasound can be addressed by medical treatment in utero or by perinatal care, though indications of other abnormalities can lead to a decision regarding abortion.Perhaps the most common such test uses a measurement of the nuchal translucency thickness ("NT-test", or "Nuchal Scan").
The procedure is a standard part of prenatal care in many countries, as it can provide a variety of information about the health of the mother, the timing and progress of the pregnancy, and the health and development of the embryo or fetus.
The International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology (ISUOG) recommends that pregnant women have routine obstetric ultrasounds between 18 weeks and 22 weeks gestational age in order to confirm pregnancy timing, to measure the fetus so that growth abnormalities can be recognized quickly later in pregnancy, and to assess for congenital malformations and multiple gestations (i.e. Additionally, the ISUOG recommends that pregnant women have obstetric ultrasounds between 11 weeks and 13 weeks 6 days gestational age in countries with resources to perform them.
Performing an ultrasound at this early stage of pregnancy can more accurately confirm the timing of the pregnancy and can also assess for multiple fetuses and major congenital abnormalities at an earlier stage.
Ultrasound scans offer an alternative method of estimating gestational age.
The most accurate measurement for dating is the crown-rump length of the fetus, which can be done between 7 and 13 weeks of gestation.
Research shows that routine obstetric ultrasound before 24 weeks gestational age can significantly reduce the risk of failing to recognize multiple gestations and can improve pregnancy dating to reduce the risk of labor induction for post-dates pregnancy.