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How common is it to get bad news at 20 week scan?

(34 Posts)
weeblueberry Tue 11-Dec-12 20:12:49

I'm having a Weeblueberry Prescan Panic Attack[tm] wink

Seriously. Before every scan I get ridiculously frightened that this is the scan they're going to say it's all gone wrong. I wasn't so worried til I read a thread yesterday where someone mentioned they found out about a heart defect at 20 weeks and had to terminate. I know it sounds so silly but for the first few scans (early and 12 week) I was worried but I wasn't as attached to her as I am now. I can't imagine how I'd cope at this point being told something was wrong.

Sorry for the general blabbering. I'm just wondering how likely it is to get bad news at 20 weeks? I know it's an anomaly scan and that's what it's for...I just suppose I'd always (stupidly) thought anything major would have been picked up before now. sad

lovemybabyboy Thu 13-Dec-12 12:50:26

I know someone who got bad news at the 20wk scan and was advised to terminate the pregnancy as they said the baby would not survive outside of the womb. Her and her DH decided to continue with the pregnancy and now their child is nearly three and a half years old!!! The child does have medical problems but the parents are so glad they didn't follow the doctors advice!!!

weeblueberry Thu 13-Dec-12 11:36:27

Thanks everyone. I moaned about my worries to my DP last night who looked at me as if I had two heads. blush

We had a private gender scan at 17 weeks (two weeks ago) with a sonographer who normally does anomaly scans at the local hospital during the week. According to DP (I barely remember any of this...) she commented that she'd done such a thorough job looking at the wee one that the 20 week scan probably wasn't even necessary! He said she commented she could see 4 heart chambers, kidneys etc. Where the hell was I during this? hmm. Honestly though I was so taken aback by the fact she'd announced it was a girl that I probably wasn't paying as full attention as I should have been. DP noted that as a professional, had she seen anything that concerned her she'd have said. I wasn't sure about this because we were booked in for a gender scan, not an anomaly scan. But he insisted her duty of care would have made her inclined to mention it so we could go for a scan at the hospital.

Who knows eh? Just a week to go but given the conversation DP and I had last night I'm feeling a bit better about the whole thing. I also really appreciate everyone's reassurances here. smile

HauntedLittleLunatic Thu 13-Dec-12 10:43:04

Fair point. I was considering that as things that correct themselves, but you are absolutely right things correcting themselves and things not being a problem but which are flagged with a question mark are quite rightly distinct.

Good luck to.

AliceWChild Thu 13-Dec-12 10:21:03

Lljkk I think your scenario is a really important one. It was mine and knowing that it's possible is the tiny hope you can hold on to. And it happens. The thing I was coming on to say was to clarify in my earlier post, I said lots of people had a story about false scares. I wanted to clarify that's not the same as lots of people have false scares, they were often recounting other people's stories. Didn't mean to make it sound a likely outcome.

lljkk Thu 13-Dec-12 09:07:12

That's true, one of my false scares was a growth scan at 34 weeks because fundal height seemed small at 33 weeks.
I was never slightest bit worried, but they sent me for a scan just in case.

emeraldgirl1 Thu 13-Dec-12 08:59:42

weeblueberry - I had total panic before 20w scan, convinced myself something would be wrong. I think it's normal(ish!) to get very worried before the scans, they're your only contact with the baby at this point and it can feel very All Or Nothing I think. I have no idea of the statistics (I think some people have given them here, haven't had time to read the whole thread!) but I imagine the chances of something being wrong are tiny. Maybe just try to remember that statistics are well on your side!!
(also I find that major distraction works - even if it's zonking out in front of a crappy DVD or something in the evenings...)
But just try to remember that just because you are scared it doesn't mean there's anything wrong!!! Your brain is playing games with you...

havingastress Thu 13-Dec-12 08:54:36

Probably won't help you to say this but...

You'll worry (probably unnecessarily) about your 20 week scan and tell yourself that once you have a good scan you'll stop worrying..

But no. Then you worry that something will happen after that! As I gave birth I was worrying that the baby wouldn't make it out alive sad

Now she's here I'm worrying that she's suddenly going to stop breathing for no reason. sad

tbh, reading forums on here don't help, cos ppl post when something awful has happened. Think how many people have had no probs whatsoever with their scans/pregnancy but don't post!

Good luck for your scan smile Please try and relax and enjoy your pregnancy.

lljkk Thu 13-Dec-12 08:44:08

You missed one out there Haunted.

The 2nd most likely outcome is they identify something that concerns them but they can't be sure. So they talk about possible problems, call OP back for extra scan(s), talk about possible meaning of it, possible outcomes. Wheel out their experts. May even insist that OP be induced early.

And then in the end it is NOTHING. The problem never existed at all they just had a question mark. Because of an anatomical assymetry or the placenta moves out of the way after all or the baby is big enough after all. The cord has odd blood flow but baby is born fine, anyway. Etc.

I went thru this with 3 of 4 pregnancies and after first pregnancy I became completely laid back in every other pregnancy about "possible" problems.

HauntedLittleLunatic Wed 12-Dec-12 22:41:43

I think what everyone is saying is that most likely outcome is that there are no problems at all.

Next most likely is that baby doesn't co-operate and they can't see some parts of anatomy and call you back 2 weeks later just because they couldn't see (i had this but because twin pregnancy I was due to be scanned 2 weeks later anyway).

Next most likely (but actually in the minority) they identify something which whilst not 100% healthy is treatable. You get extra care and monitoring as appropriate and baby is proactively treated. In some cases concerns in utero fix themselves sometimes needs treatment. Parents get a chance to emotionally adapt to news and plan.

The rarest scenario is that the baby is severely ill and choices will need to be made.

blackcurrants Wed 12-Dec-12 22:33:25

Yes, exactly!

noblegiraffe Wed 12-Dec-12 22:29:53

A friend of mine also had a kidney issue detected at 20 weeks. Baby was put on antibiotics for the first few months to prevent infections and had a minor op at a year old to completely correct the problem. I think it's bloody marvellous that they could spot this so early on, because, as mentioned, if they hadn't found it the baby would have just got ill all the time while they faffed around trying to diagnose it.
So spotting a problem at 20 weeks could be seen as a good thing as they can prepare to treat it. Very rare that they can't do anything.

AliceWChild Wed 12-Dec-12 22:05:54

I was another one who did get bad news at the 20 week scan. It went from bad, to worse, to worse, to dire, then to better. He's now had the all clear and is wriggling round on his playmat in front of me. grin

Being in this situation, I think I have heard about more people's bad experiences than the usual, as people tended to tell me their tales. And the vast vast majority of those tales were about something that might have been wrong but was fine in the end. There are so many tales like that. So the likelihood of anything being wrong is small, and if anything does crop up it may well be fine. And ime you are treated very very well by the hospital and given heaps of support if the unlikely does happen.

weeblueberry Wed 12-Dec-12 21:51:45

Thank you SO SO much to everyone who has replied - I really do appreciate every single one. smile

Particularly from haunted, blackcurrants and Blu which just goes to show that getting 'news' at the scan doesn't necessarily mean it's going to be imcompatable with life (what a bloody horrid phrase...!!). This alone makes me feel hugely better. Thank you blackcurrants and Blu for sharing your stories. smile

Blu Wed 12-Dec-12 18:41:40

Like Blackcurrants, problems were discovered at our 20 week scan - and I can honestly say that I am very glad they were found at that point, and it meant I was calm and informed and prepared to just be a new Mum to Ds, rather than feeling worry at the time I should have felt joyful.

No-one can say that nothing bad will ever happen, because of course it can, and you can't believe yourself if you try and pretend otherwise.

1. 'Soft markers'. SO much upset and needless angst has been caused by 'soft markers' found at scans. DS had 2 soft markers: talipes (club foot) and 'echogenic locii' somewhere - heart I think. These were said to be soft markers fo a range of trisomies, 2 of which were incompatible with life. We had amnio and then spent a week in absoute anguish waiting for the outcome which was no trisomies. I then found that soft markers means 'vague unproven suggestion of a link', and that echogenic locii are small concentrations of calcium which are incredibly common and harmless. So that just left the talipes.

2. Knowing that there would be a difference with our baby, the hospital were excellent. They made an appt for us to speak with the paediatric orthopaedic consultant as soon as possible and amongst all sorts of sensible, practical (and therefore re-assuring) info she dismissed the possibility of the trisomies mentioned in connection with talipes as 'rare as hen's teeth'! I talked to other parents, researched ways of addressing talipes, found the online support forums, etc etc.

What's known is easier to deal with.

The chances that anything bad will be discovered are v v small. Picture every packed football staduim up and down the country - all healthy pregnancies and births. The scan is there to HELP with any issues that may arise.

But parenting isn't a fear free environment.Wjat about the conditions which can't be found on any scan, such as ASD? The best we can do is try and get perspective and know that we can get throughm and survive, and that parenting is worth the worry and fear.

(actually when DS was borrn the problem was more extensive than talipes, but it's still ddealable with, and he's an ecstatically happy child, and we are ecstatically happy parents).

blackcurrants Wed 12-Dec-12 18:20:32

Hello! I'm 38+5 and I did get some bad news at the 20 week scan ... but it wasn't that bad - so in case this is of use: DON'T PANIC! smile

my little boy foetus has hydronephrosis, which is basically 'urine reflux in the kidneys" - wee should be going from the kidneys to the bladder in ONE direction only, but is in fact refluxing back up. So his kidneys are a bit too full of wee. At the 20 week scan they said this could resolve itself before the birth, after the birth, or it might be something that is treated when he's a 3-6 month old baby if he's having lots of UTIs. Basically the ultrasound tech did the tour de womb, the gender reveal, and then said "I'm going to show your film to the doctor now, be back in a minute" and the doctor came back in with her and explained the condition, and how much we should worry about it. She said "Please don't worry about this yet, chances are it will resolve itself before the birth and even if it doesn't, your baby will never remember having had the condition, it's fixable." etc - she was very calming. No one WANTS anyone to 'just go and get the doctor for a moment" but they were very very good.

I went back for scans at 26 and 34 weeks, and each time they said "okay, nothing changed, some on back at xdate." and after the 34 week scan I've been going weekly so they can keep an eye on amniotic fluid levels, as if they drop suddenly I may be induced (So far nothing's changed since october and I'm hugely pregnant and desperate to get this kid out!). Now I'm talking to a pediatric urologist at the hospital where I'm delivering, and working out what the first week of his life will look like (an ultrasound on his kidneys once he's born, then some monitoring and checkups, not much else at the moment, it's a wait-and-see-if-it-fixes-itself condition, really).

My point is: This is a condition they couldn't even detect on ultrasound a few years ago. People only worked out their children had kidney problems when they were 3-6 months old and had frequent urinary tract infections. Now they can see it at 20 weeks but they still don't DO anything in most cases until the baby's a few months old (if they do anything at all). No, it's not as great as a clean bill of health but SOME of the problems they detect at the 20 week scan aren't things you can expend any useful energy on until after the birth anyway.

So I'm saying: don't worry. They might detect any number of things (which wouldn't have been knowable for our generation as babies!) and those things might not even end up being a real problem. Of course there are scary awful things that might be found, but if the technician says "I'm just off to get the doctor" please don't spiral into a panic -it might be something relatively straightforward, like I've experienced. It's not a pleasant feeling but nor is it something very awful, and people are extremely good at keeping you informed and making you feel aware.

Also: good luck and congratulations smile

tasmaniandevilchaser Wed 12-Dec-12 17:46:21

hi there, my 20 wk scan is 2 days before yours and I'm building up for a good old fret about it! I like haunted's fact that only a tiny percentage of problems identified will be incompatible with life, and I will be hanging onto that over the next week.

I don't like the 1% stat as I've had a horrible experience in a previous pg that apparently only happens to 1% of people. I don't feel lucky.

But, ultimately, like snowflake said, it's out of our control, so we might as well relax.

Floggingmolly Wed 12-Dec-12 17:41:03

It's just that the 20 week is specifically the anomaly scan, so if there was to be any bad news it's usually discovered here. The chances are tiny; try not to worry.

Snowflakepie Wed 12-Dec-12 17:36:16

Obviously there are a few people who get sad news but it is a tiny number. And so much can be done now, especially if doctors know about it and can prepare. It's not weird to worry, far from it, but really there is nothing you can do, whatever is going on will happen anyway. Worry just upsets you. I don't know if that helps but when I start fretting about things that really are out of my control I try to remember that, and calm down a bit. Good luck, fingers crossed for a lovely scan!

LookingForwardToMarch Wed 12-Dec-12 16:56:39


LookingForwardToMarch Wed 12-Dec-12 16:56:23

Try not to worry (easer said than done I know) At our 20 week scan the sonographer said there was a heart defect, the pulmonary valve was too big. I spent a week worrying my arse off! We went for the cardio scan and the consultant said there was absolutely nothing to worry about. I know there are cases where it doesnt end that happily but I wouldnt stress about it, medical science is amazing these days, they can fix alot

HauntedLittleLunatic Wed 12-Dec-12 16:51:43

Also remember that of the small number of people that have problems identified at 20 weeks an even smaller number will have defects that are incompatible with life, many that are identified will allow the foetal medicine specialists to treat appropriately very early in the child's life.

lljkk Wed 12-Dec-12 16:50:04

What I truly think is very common is for them to say "Hmm, that might be a problem" followed by extra scans & discussions. Culminating in exactly nothing, there never was a problem at all. They were "just being careful". You get stressed out in meantime...over nothing!

MyFriendGoo Wed 12-Dec-12 16:46:59

My 20 week scan is exactly a week after yours blueberry and I'm starting to have the nerves kick in! It's perfectly normal to worry....the way I see it, we can't physically look at our little ones every day so it feels like we're kept completely in the dark between scans. No wonder our crazy brains fill us up with unfounded worries. in reality it's very unlikely there will be any probs. Good luck and report back next week!

EdithWeston Wed 12-Dec-12 15:02:59

It is uncommon, but possible (for they would not scan at both 12 and 20 weeks if there were nothing that could not be picked up at 12).

weeblueberry Wed 12-Dec-12 14:59:48

I'm exactly the same Chestnuts. I'd rather read up on all the possibilities so if something does come up I know what to ask about? DP says I'm being negative but I'd really rather just be informed.

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