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TIFFA: All You Need to Know About the Fetal Anomaly Scan

For any woman, being pregnant can be an incredibly joyous experience, whether it’s her first time or fifth. There’s quite possibly nothing in this world that can match up to the happiness that a new mother-to-be experiences as she learns more and more about her unborn baby’s development.

As an expectant mother, once you sail through your first trimester and enter the next one, things get more relaxing and calm. For starters, your feeling of nausea subsides and your emotional upheavals take a backseat. But, the best part is that you’ll be able to feel your baby’s first movements, which is why the time duration between week 13-27 of pregnancy is called the “feel good period.”

While you, as a new mother-to-be, and your entire family look forward to the impending occasion of happiness, you also need to be extremely cautious about every test and diagnosis pertaining to the baby. Of all the important tests that are conducted when you’re pregnant, the one that stands out is the TIFFA scan.

What is the TIFFA Scan?

TIFFA stands for Targeted Imaging for Fetal Anomalies. With this routine ultrasound scan, you’ll be able to see your baby’s body and check on some important details, including the position of critical elements such as the placenta, the umbilical cord, and the level of amniotic fluid around your growing child.

This detailed scan is usually carried out during your second trimester when you’re between 18 and 21 weeks pregnant. In some cases, it may be carried out later than 21 weeks as well. When you’re halfway through your pregnancy, most of your baby’s organs would’ve already developed while some may still be developing. The TIFFA scan helps you and your doctor to figure out if all is well at such a critical juncture.[ref] Kumar, B. Prathap. "Ultrasound diagnosis of rare congenital anomalies.

Why is the TIFFA Scan Important for You?

Popularly referred to as a “morphology scan” or a “fetal anomaly scan,” the TIFFA scan is a vital diagnostic tool that’s used to detect congenital abnormalities in your baby. This scan can be 3-dimensional or 4-dimensional and is usually carried out in a high-precision lab for about 30 minutes.

A TIFFA scan report speaks volumes about your baby’s development and serves as a check for 11 conditions, some of which are very rare like open spina bifida, cleft lip, Hydrocephalus, diaphragmatic hernia, serious cardiac abnormalities, bilateral renal agenesis etc.

Apart from these conditions, here’s what a TIFFA scan can tell you about your unborn baby:

-Checks fetal movements

-Checks the level of amniotic fluid

-Checks the position of the placenta

-Detects possible birth defects in your baby

-Monitors if the growth of the baby is normal

-Checks if your baby's internal organs are growing normally

Checks if there are any indications of chromosomal abnormalities.[ref] Kumar, B. Prathap. 

To sum things up, a TIFFA scan examines the internal and external anatomy of your baby. It also helps detect any major effects, small chromosomal abnormalities, as well as any genetic syndrome.

Can the Scan be Harmful to You or Your Baby?

Truth is that ultrasound scans have been used in pregnancy for decades and there’s absolutely no evidence to prove that they’re harmful when all guidelines are followed to a tee. However, it is the duty of the ultrasound doctor or the radiologist to ensure that both you and your baby are safe at all times during the scanning process.

Most importantly, having a TIFFA scan doesn’t hurt you in the slightest. The most you’d feel is a little discomfort if your sonographer needs to apply pressure to get the best views of the baby. 

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