Genetic Counseling

School of Health and Human Sciences

Holly TaylorThe Relationship Between Nuchal Fold Measurement and Ethnicity
Capstone Project Committee: 
Roland Deutsche, PhD (Statistical Consultant), Sonja Eubanks, MS, CGC, Emily Hardisty, MS, CGC, Honor Wolfe, MD
The literature shows that various sonographic markers for chromosome abnormalities such as echogenic intracardiac focus, femur and humerus lengths, as well as maternal biochemical markers vary according to ethnicity. Methods: This project included a retrospective and prospective query of an ultrasound database for all patients with known ethnicity who were seen for second trimester ultrasound examinations between 15 weeks and 21 weeks and 6 days gestation at the University of North Carolina Women’s Hospital from January 2000 through February 2010. Ultrasounds of fetuses with an increased nuchal fold measurement (>5 mm) were reviewed for additional ultrasound markers and fetal structural anomalies. Results: A total of 12,826 records were identified as meeting study criteria. Of those, 2.7% (348) had increased nuchal fold measurements. Of those with an increased nuchal fold measurement, 37.8% also had additional ultrasound findings. Increased nuchal fold measurements were more common in the Hispanic population (3.7%) and the Native American population (6.9%) than the Caucasian population (2.2%) (p<0.05). For all gestational ages, the mean nuchal fold measurement was larger in the Hispanic population than in the Caucasian population (p<0.01). Differences in average nuchal fold measurement were also noted in African American, Asian, and Native American populations compared to the average nuchal fold measurement of the Caucasian population. Conclusion: There are differences in average nuchal fold measurements during the second trimester of pregnancy among patients of various ethnicities referred to the Women’s Hospital of North Carolina.
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