Ultrasound Shows White Marker on Baby's Heart

Jane Foley's picture


Dear Ms. Ultrasound,
My 17 week ultrasound showed a white marker on baby's heart. My doctor says its a marker for down syndrome however my blood work suggest baby's risk of getting DS is extremely low. My 23rd week ultrasound was recently done and the marker is still present along w/ new findings of fluid in both baby's kidneys. My husband and I were told these 2 findings could possibly go away on there own and pose no threat or abnormalities.

Despite what the doctor told us we can't help but feel worried. I've heard of having a type II ultrasound done to help determine what exactly is going on w/ these sorts of findings however my doctor hasn't suggested one to be done at all.

What exactly can a type II ultrasound reveal?

I'm of Asian descent, my husband is of Hindu/Indian descent. Our baby is a boy. Neither of our families have a history of down syndrome nor kidney disease/disorders. Does our ethnic background pose a greater chance of baby having DS or kidney disorder?

Any insight from you is greatly appreciated. Thanks for your time!


The echogenic foci or what you termed "white marker" can be found in a normal fetus. The statistics show that the echogenic intracardiac focus or EIF is found in 4.7% of normal fetuses and in 18% of Down Syndrome fetuses.

When the finding is isolated, the risk of Down syndrome decreases significantly.

It is not uncommon in a male fetus to see some prominence of the collecting system or renal pelvis in the baby's kidneys. A prominent renal pelvis is commonly found around 20 wks. This almost always resolves itself by the next ultrasound. I have even seen it resolve itself during the course of the ultrasound exam.

I don't have this statistic documented in front of me, but I think caucasians are at a higher risk with the EIF as compared to other ethnic backgrounds. I will look into this and get back to you if it is incorrect.

The level II ultrasound is a detailed look at the fetus and all of its anatomy. A good look is taken of the heart which can be the only indicator that a fetus may have abnormalities. This exam must be done by a licensed Sonographer or a Perinatalogist.

Once the level II U/S is done you can discuss the results with your physician and a plan for further tests will be made if necessary.

What might be discussed with your doctor is genetic counseling and or an amniocentesis or............everything may just be fine with no further tests needed. Hope this answered all your questions.

With Regards.
-- Jane RDMS