On the occasion of World Birth Defects Day, March 3, the Hospiten Group stresses the importance of prenatal diagnosis and of being aware of preventive measures during pregnancy to ensure maternal and child health.
Dr. Plasencia explains that the Hospiten Fetal Medicine Unit, specialists in prenatal diagnosis, a number of specific examinations and non-invasive tests are carried out to identify any congenital defects in the fetus and, in many cases, establish what measures are needed to avoid risks to the mother or baby.
Of the tests carried out, Dr. Plasencia particularly stresses the need for ultrasounds to be carried out from week eleven of the pregnancy on. By doing so, doctors can get a full picture of the anatomy of the fetus and can, therefore, diagnose problems early on, and evaluate the risk of further complications that may come up during the pregnancy, such as hypertensive disorders or abnormal fetal growth. These tests are often combined with laboratory tests, like DNA studies that help facilitate the detection of birth defects.
In other cases, the Unit carries out invasive techniques like chorionic villus sampling or amniocentesis for more complete genetic studies.
These tests allow abnormalities, which can often be corrected, to be detected during pregnancy or after birth, including congenital defects or those passed down through the family.
The director of the Hospiten Fetal Medicine Unit states that “there have been advances in ultrasound techniques which means that prenatal diagnosis has taken a great step forward in that we can now see small details on the fetus and study more complex aspects of the development of the fetus”. He goes on to say that such progress in not only due to better equipment and techniques, but also to the professionals in continuous education and qualified to apply these methods with good results.
Congenital diseases can become evident at birth or in the first months of life. There are three types of congenital disease: chromosomal abnormalities, hereditary diseases and, the most common, malformations. In the latter, the most complicated are those affecting the heart and are also the most difficult to diagnose.
Since 2011, all three Hospiten Group centers in Tenerife, Hospiten Bellevue, Hospiten Rambla and Hospiten Sur, have had a Fetal Medicine Unit that carry out more than 3,000 ultrasound examinations a year.