A fetal echocardiogram is an ultrasound evaluation strictly for the evaluation of your baby’s heart. The ideal time to perform this test is between 22-24 weeks of gestation. This test is offered because some babies are born with congenital heart abnormalities and some women are at a higher risk of having a baby with a congenital heart abnormality. A few reasons for needing this special ultrasound would include if the mother has a congenital heart defect, or she has had a prior baby with a congenital heart defect. A strong family history (several first degree relatives), the presence of diabetes (especially if not well controlled), exposure to certain anti-seizure medications may also increase your risk for having a baby born with a congenital heart abnormality. Sometimes during a routine ultrasound a fetal abnormality that is known to be associated with a congenital heart abnormality may be identified or an irregularity in the fetal heart rate may be observed. These are indications for further testing with a fetal Echocardiogram. Because heart defects have a high association with chromosomal abnormalities – further testing with amniocentesis may be offered.
If a specific heart abnormality is identified, we will help in making arrangements for further testing and evaluation as well as continued monitoring through the pregnancy.