Every year in the UK, around 3,000 babies are born with a major heart defect that needs treatment during their first year of life. Sadly, this makes heart problems one of the most common and most deadly congenital defects a baby can have.
Spotting these defects early is important. Research shows it leads to better survival rates and quality of life. And detection during pregnancy means the necessary preparations can be made: the right medical experts can be on hand at birth; treatment can begin as early as possible; and parents-to-be can receive specialist support.
The 20 week scan – the fetal anomaly screening that all mums-to-be are offered by the NHS – is the best chance to detect heart defects before the baby is born. But at the moment, only about one third of these life-threatening defects are spotted during pregnancy – and we’re trying to help sonographers and increase that.
Our Big Tick campaign is simple: we think that every parent-to-be should be given enough information to properly discuss their baby’s heart health with their sonographer during the 20 week scan.
We asked parents about their experiences of 20 week scans. A huge 78% said they felt it was vital or very important to ask questions about the baby’s heart – but only 21% said they had done so. Almost half of those told us they simply didn’t know what to ask.”
That’s where the Big Tick comes in. We think that by discussing you baby’s heart health with your sonographer (order your info card here), together you’ll be able to give your 20 week scan a Big Tick.
In the vast majority of cases, your sonographer will be able to give you the reassurance that your baby’s heart has been thoroughly checked and all looks healthy. If your sonographer does think your baby may have a poorly heart, helping spot it at your scan means you’ll start receiving the care and support you and your baby need from the earliest opportunity.
You’ll know you helped give your baby’s heart the best possible start.