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Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 2001 Jul;18(1):18-22.

Fetal nuchal translucency and normal chromosomes: a long-term follow-up study.

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Hospital for Children and Adolescents, Helsinki, Finland.



To assess the impact of increased nuchal translucency observed during early pregnancy on the subsequent health of children with normal chromosomes, with special attention to cardiac anatomy and function.


Clinical examination and detailed cardiac evaluation were carried out in 50 chromosomally normal children at the age of 2.4-7.1 years who had had a nuchal translucency measurement of > or = 3 mm at 13-15 weeks' gestation. The data of two babies who died of heart defects were also included.


Major cardiac defects were identified in four (8%) of the children. The growth of all children was within normal limits. One child had Noonan syndrome, one had a cleidocranial dysplasia and a third had a developmental delay together with an unrecognized syndrome. Webs in the neck region were noticed in two children, with no associated pathology.


In chromosomally normal fetuses with increased nuchal translucency, fetal echocardiography is necessary to identify major cardiac defects. In general, the parents can be reassured that, in the great majority, postnatal development is normal.

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