What is the problem?
During your recent ultrasound examination we have found that your baby has echogenic (bright) bowel. This is a term used to describe a brighter than normal appearance in the baby’s abdomen. Sometimes we know that this appearance may follow the baby having swallowed some blood with the amniotic fluid if there was an earlier bleed in pregnancy which you may not have noticed. In most cases the cause is never determined and it often disappears before the end of the pregnancy.
What does this mean?
Echogenic bowel can be associated with a viral infection in the baby and we would suggest that we take a blood test from you to look for antibodies. This result takes about two weeks to be reported.
Echogenic bowel can also be associated with cystic fibrosis. This can be investigated with a blood test from both biological parents, which will check to see if either parent is a carrier of the gene. If either biological parent is found to be a carrier for the common genes that cause cystic fibrosis we will arrange for you to have an appointment in the department of genetics.
Echogenic bowel can be due to a chromosomal condition such as Downs Syndrome (Trisomy 21). You may wish to know for certain whether your baby has a chromosomal condition and this would involve an amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling. Both of these tests carry a small risk of miscarriage (about 1 in 100) and therefore this can be a difficult decision to make.
What happens next?
You will be given the opportunity to talk to a fetal medicine midwife. You will also be offered a scan appointment in the fetal medicine department with a fetal medicine consultant to discuss this further. For further details contact the fetal medicine midwives on 01223 216185 or 01223 245151.
Please remember that by far the most likely outcome for your pregnancy will be a normal baby.
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Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge
Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151