Stories about: ultrasound

Prenatal diagnosis sets James up for success

james-tetralogy-of-fallotI remember it like yesterday. Pregnant with my first child, I went to my 9-week scheduled ultrasound not really knowing what to expect. I heard a little baby’s heartbeat in my belly! I was blown away.

When you go for your 18-week ultrasound, make sure your baby’s heart is checked. A simple scan can change everything. ~ Elizabeth

At the 18-week scan, it appeared that the baby only had one kidney. The doctor seemed to think that everything else was normal, but he told me I had the option to make an appointment at Boston Children’s Hospital for a fetal echocardiogram. My husband had to work that day, so my mother came with me. I truly was not concerned.

Little did I know that my life was about to change forever, and all because of a simple scan that I almost didn’t receive.

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Why it’s important to ask about your baby’s heart during an ultrasound


Did you know that at least half of all babies born with a heart condition are not diagnosed during pregnancy? Heart defects can seriously impact a child’s health, but knowing ahead of time will allow you to find the right people who can help. In some cases, prenatal detection can lead to earlier treatment for the baby.

Watch this short video to learn what to ask at your 18- to 22-week screening ultrasound to make sure your baby’s heart is healthy. If you don’t feel comfortable asking the questions yourself, download the questions and share them with the person performing your ultrasound.

Taking a few extra moments at your ultrasound is an important first step to managing your child’s health. Your baby might not be born yet, but they’re already counting on you.

Explore bostonchildrens.org/fetalheart for more information and resources.

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Francesca’s story: Beating a heart tumor

Francesca, who was diagnosed with a cardiac tumor before she was born, with herAlthough her parents were warned she might not breathe when she was born, the moment Francesca Durkos came into this world, she let out a gutsy cry.

“It was music to our ears,” says her mom.

Michelle Carino Durkos was 40 weeks pregnant when she learned there was a tumor attached to her unborn daughter’s heart — a tumor so large that doctors near her home in Pensacola, Florida, were unsure if the baby would live.

“It was a shock, because at 20 weeks everything was normal,” says Michelle. “We had a wonderful ultrasound; we saw all four chambers.”

Yet, call it a mother’s intuition, Michelle knew something was wrong.

“The whole pregnancy I had this strange feeling. I didn’t want to upset her, so I’d sleep sitting up, as if she was fragile — as if she was in distress.”

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Video: Caring for kids with congenital heart disease

As Director of Ultrasound Imaging Research at the Heart Center, Dr. Gerald Marx is passionate about advancing non-invasive imaging and its role in diagnosing congenital heart disease.

Many of his patients who were first diagnosed in utero are now going off to college.

“This has become an extraordinarily technological field that we are in,” he says. “But within all that technology has to be the human interaction, the human feeling that the medical system cares about their son or daughter as a person and as a patient.”

Learn more about the Division of Non-Invasive Cardiac Imaging.

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