Fetal Nasal Bone Length in the East African Population

Sabrina C. Burn, Amy Markese, Ananta Bangdiwala, Lisa Gill, Katherine Jacobs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVES: To establish normal ranges of fetal nasal bone length throughout gestation in the East African population and to subsequently compare these measurements with the standardized reference.

METHODS: A retrospective cross-sectional study was performed at the University of Minnesota from January 2011 to December 2016. Fetal nasal bone length measurements were generated in a midsagittal plane at an angle of insonation of 45° from ultrasound images of 1407 nonanomalous fetuses of 1130 mothers of East African decent between 14 and 40 weeks' gestation. The proportion of fetal nasal bone lengths of less than 5.2 mm at week 20 of gestation in the East African population was then compared with the 5% noted by the standardized reference by a χ 2 test.

RESULTS: The fetal nasal bone length increased linearly with advancing gestational age in fetuses of East African mothers (R 2 = 0.53; P < .0001). The fetal nasal bone lengths of the East African fetuses were found to be shorter at all ages of gestation compared with the standard reference. At 20 weeks' gestation 17% (95% confidence interval, 13%-22%) of the nasal bone lengths of the East African fetuses were less than 5.2 mm compared with 5% of white and African American fetuses.

CONCLUSIONS: Using the standard reference may lead to a greater than 3.5-fold overdiagnosis of hypoplastic nasal bones in the East African population. To improve aneuploidy risk stratification and patient counseling in the East African population, the introduction of a standardized East African-based fetal nasal bone length reference seems warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1007-1012
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Ultrasound in Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 by the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine


  • aneuploidy risk stratification
  • fetal nasal bone length
  • genetic screening
  • hypoplastic nasal bone
  • prenatal diagnosis
  • ultrasound


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