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Is there a reason to continue to have ultrasounds after a diagnosis has been confirmed?

Since ultrasounds are used to help assess the health of the baby and the pregnancy, some feel that once a Trisomy 18 diagnosis is confirmed, there is no point in having additional ultrasounds. However, there are some reasons that additional ultrasounds may be helpful.

First, it will help to assess the presence or absence of polyhydramnios. Knowing this will help the parents and staff make plans for a possible earlier birth, as often a Trisomy 18 birth plan has some additional logistical items involving family and friends and possibly specific medical staff.

Second, if the parents and physician have agreed upon a course of action that would involve induction or C-section if the baby begins to exhibit signs of failure to thrive, ultrasound may be part of the testing done to assess the baby's condition. Sometimes later in the pregnancy the baby stops growing and, if intervention is desired, it may be helpful to do additional ultrasounds to identify this.

Third, it may be helpful to understand some of the specific problems the baby may be facing so the parents can prepare a care plan to implement at birth. If the parents desire to pursue more aggressive treatment, are there any things that would require immediate surgery or non-standard care immediately after birth? Ultrasounds can help answer some of these questions.

Finally, the opportunity for the parents to see and bond with their baby during ultrasound is invaluable in the later healing process. Any ultrasound pictures or video the parents can obtain will be treasured, all the more after the diagnosis is confirmed.

The choice to continue or discontinue having ultrasounds needs to be made in discussions between physician and parents. It will be part of the formation and development of the birth plan, which should also be made in similar discussions.

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