Pregnancy: April 2009 Babies Community
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690293 tn?1403965768

Short Femur and Humerus bones at 20 weeks

I am 34 years old, pregnant with my 3rd child. I went in for my 20 week ultrasound and was given that paired with the result of my quad screen where the risk for Down syndrome was 1:2200 and the fact that my baby is also measuring with both a small femur and a small humerus bone that my risk is now significantly higher. Has this happened to anyone else? Is there reassurance that you can provide? Every website I go to basically has a ton of numbers and I get confused, so plain english would be nice. Having a child with Down syndrome is not the end of the world and I know this, I am just trying to assess my risks and find appropriate care for my child in a very very rural community without the use of invasive testing.  Thank you for your answers.
47 Responses
501096 tn?1320874932
I'm sorry you're going through such a rough time.  I'm 40 (41 when baby arrives) and almost 24w pg.  We didn't do the quad screen--only the AFP to check for spinal bifida; however, my 20w u/s showed a slightly thick nuchal fold.  Given this, my age, and a single umbilical artery, we ended up going to see a perinatologist.  The spec found 2 extra holes in the baby's heart and decided he probably had Trisomy 13 or 18 which are usually fatal.  We too did not want to risk having a m/c from an amnio, since there is nothing to be gained from finding out if the baby had Down's or not.  However, with the possible health issues involved with the other 2 Trisomies, we agreed to an amnio.  The baby is fine (praise the Lord!) except for the heart and umbilical issues.

Shortened femur length is something we did NOT have which reassured us from the start; however, our baby was measuring 6d ahead in general.  I would say your chances of having a Down's baby are increased, but your baby might be fine too.  Quad screens frequently give false positives, in fact, my OB said that on some tests I would likely "fail" JUST because of my age and nothing else.  I'm sorry I can't help you with the numbers.

I hope everything goes well with your precious baby.

Avatar universal
My AFP test came back as being a 1:18 chance of DS.  During my 25th week I had an ultrasound, but I was not  made aware of results until my 33rd week of pregnancy.  Results came back showing shortened femur and humerus (both over a week behind).  My odds for having a baby with DS jumped to 2:3.  Being in a panic, I begged to see a perinatologist who agreed to order an amnio and fish test during my 34th week.  The ultrasound during the amnio test showed the lengths of femur and humerus were then 2 weeks behind and I was devastated.  Amazingly, both tests came back negative for DS.  I am so thankful to now have a beautiful, healthy, large, and long baby.  At two months she is in the 98th percentile for both height and weight.  No idea why she was measuring so short.  My advice to everyone who detects any chance of chromosomal abnormality...just do the amnio.  Make sure to check out the doctor performing the test and see what the rate of miscarriage is for that doctor.  The majority of docs have never had amnios resulting in loss of a baby.  Even some medical facilities have not lost a baby due to this procedure.  I will never go through the pain of not knowing again.  It wasn't good for me, my family, or the unborn baby.
757371 tn?1269963037
Hi, i experienced the same problem but my ending was quite tragic...i was reccomended and urged to end the pregnancy because of a probable case of osteogenisis imperfetta (fragile bone disease). This because one of the femurs 'seemed' to have a fracture that had been calcified.
Could you let me know what the femur length was at 20 weeks? My baby's femur measured 26mm at 19 + 5 and humerous 29mm. At 28 weeks the femur measured 42.2mm and humerous 41.4mm.
690293 tn?1403965768
Well, we are still in limbo.  I didn't do the amnio, and am rather regretting it now, because I've been going back every two weeks for more ultrasounds, which are the same combo of good news and bad news.  

I will be 32 weeks along this friday (with yet another appointment to measure things) and the humerus is still measuring fairly short, now by over two weeks and the femurs are about a week behind, but they are still growing, albeit slowly, so I will take that.  The good news is that all the other markers for problems are not there, baby is right on target and 'normal' looking.

I am hoping that the fact that I just make short babies - my son was only 17 1/2 inches and my daughter was only 18 1/2 inches is the contributing factor into this 20 weeks of worry.

si_di I am so sorry to hear about your loss.  At 24 weeks my baby's femur measured at 3.8 cm but I do not remember what it was at 20 weeks.

Next baby, right off the bat I'm getting an amnio and not dealing with this.
690293 tn?1403965768
I know how frustrated I was when I would finally run across a site with someone else asking the same  question as myself but no follow up so I never knew the outcome.

A birth announcement!

At 39 weeks even I went in for my last ultrasound to check measurements.  At this time the humerus and other arm bones were measuring at 33 weeks.  The Femur and other leg bones were at 34 weeks.  Still no real answers as to why.

1 day overdue Nathan arrived at 2:35am weighing in at 6lbs 12oz and 19 inches long.  My 'short' baby was actually my longest at birth go figure.  All tests say the same thing....normal kid.  Dad is shorter (5'8") with a longer torso and shorter legs and I am no towering giant myself (5'6") the specialists seem to think that it is just the way Nathan is built and because in utero he fell in thelow end of 'normal' they flagged him.

4 months old now 16lbs and 25 inches long.

I hope this provides some hope to anyone who might find it later!
501096 tn?1320874932
Praise the Lord that nothing is wrong with Baby Nathan!  I was induced 2.5wks early due to my BP, but he was healthy.  He weighed 6-9 & was 19.75" long.  He's now 19.5wks & weighs 15.5 lbs. & was 26.5" as of last Wed.  Ben has a long torso & short legs like his daddy too.  :-)  See I told you he might be just fine!  Congrats!
Avatar universal
I'm 37 weeks pregnant (my third baby) and the ultrasound result shows that Femur length is 10 weeks less than it should be.  At my 33 weeks FL was 23 weeks Gestational age and at 37 it is 27 Gestational age.  The Femur seems to grown normally and we are wondering what the problem is.  All other diagnostic on head, abdomen, neck, spinal chord, placenta, and amniotic fluid show normal.  Please advise me what this could be?  Thanks

757371 tn?1269963037
Hi there,

my baby seemed to have a fractured femur although it was not clear in any of the ultrasounds from 20 weeks up to 28 weeks. We were told she had ostegenisis imperfecta which is quite rare seeing that neither me or my spouse have it nor is it in our family history.
It has been 8 months since i had a therapeutic abortion, the worst and most horrible experience of my life and i am still wondering if we made the right choice :-(
We are having all the dna testing done but i feel deep down that someone isn't telling me the truth about how things went.
Her autopsy was perfect, there were no signs of anything.
The only factors we were ever given by all dr's were that she had short femur lengths (by 2\3 weeks) and one seemed to have been fractured and it had recalused.
I would suggest you get visited by more than one dr...it's tough but it's worth it.
No one cares as much as you do....get more opinions and investigate on your own.

690293 tn?1403965768
Congratulations on your healthy baby!  A little faith goes a long way!
690293 tn?1403965768
Sawoin - That is how it was for me as well.  the bones measured short but everything else measured normal.  It is a soft marker for Down syndrome that becomes a hard marker when paired with another sign like an echogenic bowel...from what I understand.  Like I said before our baby's short measurements just turned out to be genetics, having two short parents and a dad that is all torso, he also turned out to be a normal kid, but he might get the short end of the stick with height.  It is so hard going through your pregnancy with such uncertainties and wish you all the best.  Please let us know how your baby is after birth!

si_di - Again, I am so sorry for your loss what a hard thing you have had to go through.  I wish you all the best and hope you get the answers you are looking for.
Avatar universal
Thank you for sharing your story - it is helping me get through, what I am dealing with right now.  I am 33 weeks, and my baby's femur bone is measuring short. So they did another scan to see if the lung bones are behind also.  They are 2 weeks behind - while his head and stomach are measuring prefectly.  At 19 weeks they found the short femur bone, and did a quad screening - but everything came back normal (negative - thank god) However now - the femur is still short - they said on the lower end of normal.  The dr. said it could be anything to genectics, family history or just that he may be short - or it could be dwarfism.  I go back for an ultrasound in 3 weeks, but he said there is no way of actually knowing until the baby is born and checked by a pediatrician.  

I am hoping that it is just because he is short.  His dad is 5' 7.5", and his dad is shorter. But his brothers are tall.  I am 5' 9".

The negative thing is that the baby's dad left me at 18 weeks pregnant, and I can not get a hold of him about his family's history or medical information.  
757371 tn?1269963037
Hi there, i was wondering what the outcome was?
How's your baby doing?

690293 tn?1403965768
Sawoin, How is your baby doing?  

Mavis, please come back when you deliver and let us know how things are.
1222302 tn?1267016663

Im so sorry to hear your story Mavis. I too, hope you come back and let us know how you are doing.

First of all, I'd like to say this forum is exactly what I needed to find and I thank all of you who have posted for doing so.

I am 35 years old (will be 36 by EDD) and I am 17 weeks pregnant. Last week the hospital called me and informed me that I needed to come in. After doing a triple-screening test they informed me that my 1 in 200 chance of having a baby with Down's had increased to a 1 in 10 chance. I was rather unprepared for this and it shocked me very much. Luckily they were able to do a Level II Ultrasound for me right then and there and they determined that I had some soft markers.

The femur length of my baby measures at 1.95cm and the humerus at 1.98cm - putting the GA at 15w6d for both HL and FL while the rest of the measurements on my baby came in at 17w0d to 17w5d. I was also told they had a hard time seeing a third bone in the pinky.  They said based on the ultrasound combined with the triple-screen test, they know put my chances of having a Downs baby at 2 in 10. Considering that 24 hours prior I thought I had a healthy baby, this kind of threw me into a stressful panic.

Luckily they were able to do the amnio right then and there. The amnio was painful - more painful then they told me it would be - mostly the puncturing of the uterus wall more than anything else. But an ultrasound of the baby showed he was fine and there was no risk of a threatened miscarriage. Now is the waiting time - which is the worst time for any mother to be I am sure.

However, in the meantime, I have been on the internet these last five days and researching all I can about the triple screen and the measurements that babies are to be measured for. I found MANY, MANY women posting that they had positive tests results on the triple screen and got back negative tests after the amnio. Some sites said the triple screen had a 5% false positive rate but I have also read on many other sites that the false positive rate is as high as 80%.

I have read about many women having short FL and HL measurements initially and not opting to do an amnio and having healthy babies and I've read a story about a woman testing short on HL and FL length, getting a positive result for Downs in amnio and then having a perfectly healthy baby without any signs of Downs.

My husband is smaller than average I would say at about 5'8" whereas I am 5'6". But also, I have a longer torso than legs as I seemed to have inherited my mothers legs (she's 5'0") and my fathers torso (he is 5'10"). I am hoping that this is what has contributed to the shortened FL and HL measurements.

I empathize with any women who are stuck in the holding pattern waiting for tests results. It can be absolutely grueling whether you plan to follow through on the pregnancy no matter what or whether you choose to terminate in case of genetic disorders that could be very difficult for a child's health or life. The doctors and my family told me I shouldn't be on the internet so much reading about this all as it could stress me out more but I am finding that the more facts I have and opinions and stories like the ones above, I have found more hope that all will be ok. I have my fingers (and toes!) crossed just in case.

I wish all of you in limbo still the best of luck and hope you return and keep sharing your stories. And Mavis, I sincerely hope you have a support system near to you but if not there seems to be plenty of wonderful people out here on the net - some in the same boat as you - and I hope that you find those folks and outlets if you need it.

Avatar universal
I was diagnosed on my 20 wk US that my baby has short Femur and Humerus bones.Both were off by two weeks. Everything else is fine. So my OB recommended to have a level 2 US which the specialist would be able to determine if the baby has problems or not. They got the same results---Femur and Humerus were off by two weeks. I'm so worried that something is wrong. I'm 30, first baby. I'm only 5'2" and husband is only 5'3". Could this be just because we're short? They couldn't find anything else.Everything is normal except for the measurement of femur and Humerus. So doctors couldn't really give me exact answer except for the recommendation to have an amniocentesis. But the risk of miscarriage for amnio is 1 is 200,which kinda high for me. And when we had the US we caught the baby thumbsucking and yawning. Something that he's telling me not to do amnio because he's fine. So i guess, im just gonna go with my faith that my baby is fine and perfectly healthy.

Please let me know if any of you had your baby already with the same diagnosis but came out healthy. That would make everyone else here feel better and will give hope that nothing is wrong with the baby. I wish everybody the best here and I know it's not easy if someone tells you that your baby is not growing the same as everybody else.
Avatar universal
We are in the same situation at our 20 week ultrasound we were told that our baby's femur and humerus were both just shy of 2 weeks short.  Everything else was normal, blood tests, other measurements etc.  I'm tall but my husband has shorter legs and I wondering if this is the cause.  I'm worried it's something more serious.  Our radiologist seemed concerned, but then when we told our OBGYN she was not concerned and said that many normal, healthy babies have shorter legs and arms in utero and turn out to be perfect.

We don't want to have the amnio for the same reason but it is killing me not to know.  We took our OBGYN's advice and are going to come back to get a sonogram in three week to see if the humerus and femur increase - fingers crossed!  I feel your pain and wish only but the best for you and your baby.  
Avatar universal
I'm 33, 20 weeks along, had my OB tell me last week that the femurs were measuring about 9 days short. Went to the US specialist this morning, was told they were behind by 3 weeks, arm bones were short too but I can't remember by how much, everything else looked fine. When she started throwing around words like Down's Syndrome and Dwarfism, the sobbing and freaking out started and I had an Amnio soon after. I've spent the last 5 hours crying and surfing the net looking for similar stories. Will take at least 2 weeks for the test results to come back and I truly have no idea what we will do if it's bad news. I'm still just trying to wrap my mind around the idea that this is actually happening. Also trying to find a tiny flicker of hope! Good luck to everyone!
690293 tn?1403965768
Good luck on being patient for your results.  I did post an update in this thread on my 'short' baby, who was born just fine.  I wish the same for you.  Please keep us updated.
690293 tn?1403965768
How are things with you?  You must be close to delivering if you haven't already.
Avatar universal
I am almost 35 weeks pregnant.  Aside from the expected swelling of my feet and ankles, I've been feeling pretty good.  I went to a maternal fetal specialist about two weeks ago, and until I found this website, all I could do was cry and freak out daily over what he "discovered". According to him, my unborn son's hemurus and stomach were measuring low for his gestational age.  He proceeded to ask if I was tested for Down's, after I told him yes and the results were pos 1:435 chance...I sobbed even worse. Perhaps it was the thought of me being in my late 20s and thinking...Lord how can this be? or maybe it's the idea that until then I had this picture perfect pregnancy going on.  All I can say is that I am now at ease about the situation, being that I was unaware that there were other expecting mothers over the world who have been told the same thing or similiar and they have gone on to deliver healthy babies.  I am not very tall 5'3 and my son's father is only 5'6/5'8. I am hoping this is all part of my son's genetic makeup. I pray daily for strength, peace, and comfort in knowing that my baby will be okay.  I will continue to lift you all up in prayer, and hopefully we can all keep each other motivated during times such as these.  I am scheduled for a follow up on July 12; however, I seriously doubt that I will go since I do not want anything negative spoken over my son anymore.
690293 tn?1403965768
There are a lot of you who probably have delivered by now.  I am anxious to hear how the other "short" babies in this forum are doing.
Avatar universal
I'm going through the same thing, I am turning 32 on Sunday and am 17 weeks preggo and everything s measuring 17 weeks except the arms and legs which are measuring 14 weeks, my amnio is set for this coming up Wednesday.  I am scared to death.
Avatar universal
We went through the short long bone scare had the amnio had the genetisist suggest abortion and our daughter is now 18 months and in the 5th percentile  for height, 95th for weight, cute little chunk. her short bones delayed from 1 week at 20 weeks to 4 weeks at 36 and she is a normal little girl, folks these people are taking nice vacations on our fears if you only have the short long bone and fearmongers take a deep breath they are idiots! and are likely causing you and your baby more harm than the long bones, I am currently doing some research on possible exposure and this subject  and I would like to find out how many Veterans are represented by you, your mate, and both sets of parents. If you are a veteran or have one in your family please contact me Chris @ ***@**** Best wishes to all.
Avatar universal
i need to talk to the last person that posted i dont know how to work this website please email me at ***@**** PLEASE PLEASE AND THANK YOU.
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