All five digits of the hands of fetuses with Down syndrome are short

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Abstract

Objective

To compare mid-gestation sonographic measurements of all five digits of the hands of fetuses with Down syndrome with those of normal controls.

Methods

Twenty-nine fetuses between 17 and 26 weeks' gestation which had been confirmed by karyotyping to have Down syndrome were included in this prospective study. Each fetus was scanned once and the digits of only one hand were measured. Measurements were compared with those of 302 previously reported normal controls matched for gestational age. All measurements were expressed in multiples of the gestation-specific normal median (MoM) for each digit.

Results

Compared to 1 MoM for the length of Digits 1 to 5 from the normal population, the respective values in the Down syndrome digits were: 0.94, 0.85, 0.92, 0.88 and 0.85 MoM, representing values significantly lower than normal (P < 0.05; t-test).

Conclusions

All five digits of the hands of fetuses with Down syndrome are shorter than are those of euploid fetuses. Integration of fetal digit measurement into the antenatal assessment of selected high-risk cases may be of value although confirmation of our findings should be obtained before this measurement is incorporated into Down syndrome screening in the general population.

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