|MadSci Network: Medicine|
It is a good idea to scan fetuses (unborn babies) to check to see if there are any malformations. At the beginning of the pregnancy starting at about 7 weeks of gestational age you can see the heart beating. Later on one can see the internal organs and see if there are malformations such as heart defects or neural tube defects. Usually a first scan is done during the first few weeks of pregnancy to check the embryo, then at around 18 weeks a more thorough scan is done. At this point one can sometimes determine the sex of the baby. Towards the end of the pregnancy a scan to check all the internal organs is done. Ultrasound is preferable to other imaging because it is thought to be very safe-it does not hurt the baby. cheers, gabriel vargas md/phd
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