private pregnancy scans

A new study has revealed more women than ever before are paying to have private scans, despite also undergoing free scans on the NHS.

UK guidelines recommend women undergo two scans during their pregnancy; one at 12 weeks and the other at 20 weeks. In some cases, more may be provided if there is a concern over the health of the baby, but two is usually sufficient for healthy pregnancies. So, why are patients opting to pay for private scans on top of these free scans and could it impact baby’s health?

Study shows anxiety is driving rise in private pregnancy scans

According to this new study conducted by the parenting site, a third of pregnant women in England are paying for private pregnancy scans. The reason behind the increase is said to be down to anxiety over baby’s health.

Approximately 1 in 3 pregnant women have what is being dubbed “scanxiety”, but are unaware it could be doing more harm than good. The study surveyed 2000 mums, showed 1 in 5 paid for two additional scans, while 18% paid for three or more additional scans. Most worryingly, 1 in 50 women admitted to paying for 9-10 extra ultrasound scans equating to almost one scan a month for the duration of the pregnancy.

Many of these scans are also longer than standard scans offered on the NHS, taking approximately 30 minutes or more each time. These longer scans are much riskier as they expose baby to increased levels of ultrasound. If the scans delve deeper into the abdomen, due to excess fat for example, they could be particularly harmful.

Which scans are available privately?

There are three different types of scans available privately. These include:

The visibility scan is carried out earlier than the NHS scan, taking place between 6-10 weeks. This simply checks that the pregnancy is developing as it should and can prove reassuring to those who have previously suffered a miscarriage.

The gender scan helps you to identify the gender of your baby. Typically, you can find this out during your second NHS ultrasound scan, but it’s worth noting that not all hospitals will tell you. So, the gender scan can prove useful if you can’t get an answer from your NHS healthcare provider.

Finally, the 3D and 4D scans have become really popular in recent years. They provide a unique view of your baby, with 4D scans being particularly impressive. These tend to be deeper scans lasting for longer periods of time.

Could additional scans be harmful to baby’s health?

Private scans can prove invaluable for those who are genuinely concerned about their baby’s health. An additional couple of scans are unlikely to cause any serious problems. However, patients are advised to limit the number of additional scans they undergo and avoid having them simply for the fun of it.

When used correctly, private scans can offer peace of mind and provide a unique image of baby you can keep and treasure forever.

fertility help

New hope for those suffering from fertility issues has been provided after a hormone which could aid conception is identified. According to scientists, the recently discovered fertility hormone could help prepare the lining of the womb for conception.

Here, we’ll look at what the study revealed and why it is an exciting development within the fertility industry.

DHEA hormone could be key to helping women in their forties conceive

Scientists from the University of Edinburgh, have discovered the DHEA hormone could help prepare the womb lining for pregnancy. After testing the tissue collected from women in their forties, DHEA was shown to double the number of key proteins required for implantation.

The results of the study were published within the Fertility and Sterility Journal. Funded by the Medical Research Council, the findings could prove invaluable at producing effective future fertility treatments.

According to the researchers, this new discovery could help to increase the pregnancy rates of women trying to conceive via IVF or naturally. It is especially great news for middle-aged women who may only now be starting to think of having a baby. Prior research has shown women are waiting longer to have children these days, often resulting in issues with fertility. So, this fertility hormone could be key to ensuring pregnancy in older age is achievable.

Could hormone tablets help boost fertility?

DHEA treatment is actually already available in both a hormonal gel and tablet form. However, these treatments are largely used for non-pregnancy related issues. For example, they are advertised as being effective at slowing down the aging process and fat reduction.

Trials have been carried out to determine whether DHEA could help the ovaries to work better, but they failed to make a connection. However, it did show pregnancy rates were higher in women undergoing IVF treatment.

Little is also known about the exact environment required for a healthy egg implantation, but the study showed DHEA does appear to send the right signals to the appropriate cells. It was also discovered that the hormone boosts androgen production, a sex hormone found in both sexes, responsible for preparing the womb for pregnancy.

The scientists are keen to point out that the research is still very much in its early stages. Therefore, more studies will be required before DHEA related treatments could be used to help older couples conceive.

Other potential causes of fertility issues

While low DHEA levels associated with ageing, could be a barrier to fertility for older couples, it’s certainly not the only factor to be aware of. It is estimated that 1 in 7 couples within the UK struggles to conceive. Changes to male sperm is also said to play a major part, with stress affecting both the quality and motor ability of the sperm.

Therefore, it is vital couples seek professional help to determine the true cause of their fertility issues. Only then can a treatment plan be created. If it does turn out to be a problem with DHEA, this new research could prove crucial for developing a treatment in the not too distant future.

The minute you discover you’re pregnant, it’s understandable you’d be excited to find out the sex. Knowing whether you’re expecting a little boy or girl can really help you to not just get better prepared, but to bond with baby too.

The trouble is, if you attempt to find out baby’s gender too early with a private scan, it could prove impossible to tell. Here, you’ll discover when the best time to find out the sex of your baby is and the things to consider before booking a gender reveal scan.How soon can you accurately discover baby’s sex?

On the NHS, gender reveal scans are typically carried out between 18 and 21 weeks. However, private scans are available a little earlier.
The earliest recommended time to find out the sex of your baby is 16 weeks. Any earlier than this and it would not only be very difficult to detect the sex, but it could also harm your baby if you have too many scans early on in the pregnancy.

Is it a good idea to wait a little longer?

Although you can find out baby’s sex in your 16th week of pregnancy, it is advisable you wait a little longer. This is because babies develop at totally different rates to one another. So, you may attend a 16-week scan only to find the sex cannot yet be determined.

If you can, wait until at least 17 weeks and ideally 20 weeks before undergoing a gender reveal scan. That way, you know there’s an excellent chance of finding out the sex and there will be little risk to your baby.

Understanding the blood test reveal option

It is possible to determine baby’s sex via a blood test, rather than scan. However, these tend to only be given to women who have a high-risk pregnancy.

The blood tests are designed to detect potential genetic disorders. Part of the analysis of the blood tests includes looking into your baby’s chromosomes. This means, if a Y chromosome is present, the baby is most likely a boy. If there is no Y chromosome discovered, the baby is usually a girl.

Now, this is a pretty accurate test, but it’s only recommended for those with a high-risk pregnancy. The tests can be carried out at just 10 weeks of age and avoid the risks of a scan. However, if you do qualify for the blood test option, you won’t actually see the baby. So, a scan is generally preferable as you get to not only discover the gender but also see them too.

So, it is possible to discover baby’s sex at 16 weeks into the pregnancy. However, we do recommend waiting until week 17-20 if you want the best chance of discovering whether you’re having a boy or girl. If you choose to have a private scan, we also encourage avoiding the free NHS scan as too much ultrasound exposure can be harmful to the baby.

Clinic Team
A new study has revealed early pregnancy scans could detect whether a baby is left or right handed.

Up until now, it’s been believed that children only start to show signs of being right or left handed during the toddler stage. However, the new research carried out shows vital signs which determine whether a child is left or right handed, could actually be found in early detection scans.

Dominant hand preference could be determined as early as eight weeks

The new research conducted by the Ruhr University Bochum in Germany, claims a child’s preference for being right or left handed can be determined as early as eight weeks into the pregnancy. Results of the study have been published within the eLife Science Journal.
Ultrasounds carried out after 13 weeks can show whether baby prefers to suck their right or left thumb. So, why is this considered an exciting discovery? According to the researchers, it’s entirely changed our understanding of the causes of hemispheric asymmetries.

What else did the study reveal?

Another interesting thing revealed by the new research is that it’s the spinal cord, not the brain, which determines our dominant hand. The motor cortex within the brain determines the hand and arm movements, but it’s the spinal cord which turns this initiation into physical movement.

This means that the side of the body which carries out the movement is determined by the spinal cord. What’s most interesting, however, is that within the womb, the motor cervix isn’t actually connected to the spinal cord. Therefore, the fact it has been proven babies do appear to have a dominant hand preference in the womb suggests the brain really doesn’t have anything to do with it.

It is the first time the fetal spinal cords right and left anterior and cervical thoracal segments, have shown differences between relevant gene expression. The research revealed at eight weeks, the gene expression asymmetries were most pronounced between both halves of the spinal cord. It was recorded that 3.29% of entire transcripts which showed biologically relevant differences within left-right gene expressions.

The results of the study could also help doctors detect signs of autism and schizophrenia. This is because the dominance of the cerebral hemisphere which controls left or right handedness, can also determine speech and language. This means it could prove to be an indicator of autism, schizophrenia and depression.

More studies needed to determine detection success

Although this new research is exciting, the scientists claim more research is required to determine whether or not ultrasound scans can detect left or right-handedness.

So, patients shouldn’t expect to be able to discover whether their baby is right or left handed in current 12-week scans. It will likely take a good few years before early ultrasound scans can successfully reveal your baby’s preference.

Overall, this new discovery is an exciting development. It may take a few years to complete additional studies, but it seems highly likely a baby’s left or right handedness will be detected in early pregnancy scans in the future.