What's the NT scan?

An NT scan, or nuchal translucency is a super common screening test that happens in the 1st trimester of pregnancy. Your healthcare provider will give you an abdominal ultrasound to measure the size of the clear tissue (also called the nuchal translucency), at the back of your baby’s neck. It’s not unusual for a fetus to have fluid or even clear tissue there, but too much of either can indicate Down syndrome or another chromosomal abnormality. (Babies born with Down syndrome have an extra copy of chromosome 21.) Downs can’t be cured + it causes developmental delays and distinct physical characteristics. It’s a condition that affects 1 in every 700 babies born in the United States.

The NT test will also include blood work to measure your levels of plasma protein and the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). Abnormal levels of either may also indicate a chromosome problem. Your doctor will then calculate the risk of your baby having an abnormality. Just know that an NT scan CANNOT diagnose Down syndrome or any other chromosome abnormality. The test only predicts the risk. Talk to your provider if your results require further testing or more clarification.