Echogenic Bowel | Obstetrics | Dartmouth-Hitchcock
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Echogenic Bowel

Echogenic bowel is an unusually bright appearance of the baby's bowel on an ultrasound. Most babies with echogenic bowel are normal.

Causes of echogenic bowel

  • Bleeding during the pregnancy
  • Chromosome problems such as Down syndrome. The risk of Down syndrome is thought to be low when there are no additional risk factors, such as abnormal ultrasound or maternal serum screening results).
  • Cystic fibrosis (CF). About 3 percent of babies with echogenic bowel have cystic fibrosis.
  • An obstruction in the intestines. An ultrasound may also find extra amniotic fluid around the baby, extra fluid in the baby's belly, or dilated loops of intestine.
  • Infection such as cytomegalovirus and toxoplasmosis. It is not possible to identify all infections before birth.

Further testing

  • You can have a more detailed ultrasound to look for other abnormalities. We usually recommend a followup ultrasound at around 32-34 weeks, to make sure the baby is growing at a normal rate.
  • The maternal serum screening can assess your risk of having a baby with Down syndrome, usually performed between 15 and 20 weeks.
  • An amniocentesis can diagnose a chromosome abnormality, infection, or cystic fibrosis (if we know that both parents carry the gene). Amniocentesis involves obtaining a sample of the fluid surrounding the baby, which is then used to study the fetal chromosomes. There is a small risk of miscarriage from amniocentesis.
  • Cystic fibrosis carrier screening is a blood test that identifies approximately 90 percent of individuals of European descent who are carriers of CF. The test is less accurate for other ethnic groups.
  • Other blood tests can find some infections.
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