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The Importance Of Ultrasounds

These days, the first baby picture parents carry around is not a photograph, but an image from an ultrasound scan. But ultrasounds are more than just snapshots of a pregnancy; They're important tools that can help doctors monitor the health of an unborn child. Jessica Hartshorn, Lifestyles Editor of American Baby Magazine, offers some advice.

While ultrasounds are useful diagnostic tools, they can make a woman's pregnancy go from a glorious event to a scary ride in an instant. They can often reveal "soft markers", which is a possible indicator that the baby may have a health problem. "Ten percent of women will have a soft marker show up on an ultrasound," says Hartshorn.

Parents shouldn't necessarily be discouraged by "soft markers", however. "The vast majority are false positives," says Harshorn. In a follow-up ultrasound, the "soft marker" may have disappeared and everything will be back to normal. "[Ultrasounds] cast a wide net to try and catch every potential problem," says Hartshorn. Don't panic; the odds are on your side.

If you're still a little on edge and your doctor isn't helping to calm your fears, keep in mind that you can always talk to a genetic counselor. They may be able to better explain your risks for certain diseases or traits. As you get older, your risk for certain defects rises, and other tests, such as amniocentesis, may be required. A genetic counselor can help to better determine whether or not these tests are necessary, based on your family history.

For more information on ultrasounds and other parenting advice, click here.

By Erin Petrun