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Keywords:

  • trisomy 21;
  • chromosomal defects;
  • maternal age;
  • risk counselling;
  • nuchal translucency

Abstract

Objective

To provide estimates of maternal age- and gestational age-related risks for trisomy 21.

Methods

The prevalence of trisomy 21 was examined in 57 614 women who had fetal karyotyping at 9–16 weeks of gestation for the sole indication of maternal age of 35 years or more. On the basis of the maternal age distribution and the reported maternal age-related risk for trisomy 21 at birth, the expected number of trisomy 21 cases was calculated for each gestational age subgroup (9–10 weeks, 11–14 weeks and 15–16 weeks). The ratio of the observed to expected number of cases of trisomy 21 was then calculated and regression analysis was applied to derive a smoothened curve. The formula for maternal age- and gestational age-related risk was then applied to a population of 96 127 pregnancies that were examined at 10–14 weeks to calculate the expected number of trisomy 21 pregnancies, and this number was compared to the observed number of 326.

Results

In the 57 614 pregnancies there were 538 cases of trisomy 21. The relative prevalences of trisomy 21, compared to a prevalence of 1.0 at 40 weeks, was 10 exp(0.2718 × log10(gestation)2 − 1.023 × log10(gestation) + 0.9425). On the basis of the estimated maternal age- and gestational age-related risks, the expected number of trisomy 21 cases at 10–14 weeks of gestation in the 96 127 pregnancies was 329 (95% confidence interval 291–361), which was not significantly different from the observed number of 326 cases (χ2 = 0.02).

Conclusion

The risk for trisomy 21 increases with maternal age and decreases with gestation. The prevalence of trisomy 21 at 12 and 16 weeks of gestation is higher than the prevalence at 40 weeks by 30% and 21%, respectively. Copyright © 1999 International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology