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
 
Background:
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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