Growth Scans - are they useful?

Growth Scans - are they useful?

Growth scans - which are scans at around 34 weeks of pregnancy, are not routinely offered on the NHS. Why is this and is there any point in having one? The NHS does not offer Growth scans for 2 reasons: 1) the cost of giving every woman a scan outweighs the benefit, 2) current staffing levels in the NHS could not cope with the increased worload.

Growth scans are routinely offered in Europe and the US - so what are the benefits?

The growth scan measures the baby and assesses its anatomy, the amount of amniotic fluid and the placental function.Some problems with babies do not appear until the later stages and some babies have either increased or decreased growth - not always picked up by the Midwife or GP.


Recently, a patient and her husband came to the Marlow clinic as they were concerned about their baby's size.The growth scan showed completely normal measurements - so baby was growing normally. The placental function was also normal with normal levels of amniotic fluid. But the baby's heart was enlarged in one of the chambers and the doppler of the valve between the 2 chambers on the Right side showed flow in the wrong direction. After discussion, we arranged for her to see Miss Sarkar, Specialist in Fetal Medicine privately within 2 hours, where our findings were confirmed and a probable diagnosis of fetal anaemia due to Parvo virus made. This condition could not have been picked-up at this stage without a scan and the patient was receiving urgent care from the NHS with a likely early delivery to ensure a good outcome.

This particular condition is not common (<5% of women infected with Parvo virus whilst pregnant develop fetal anaemia) but for this patient it was crucial.