Ultrasound, sonograms, and dopplers use high frequency sound waves to produce an image of the baby on a viewing screen or amplify the baby's heartbeat so it can be heard more easily. NO STUDIES have been done which prove the safety of these devices, and the American Medical Association recommends AGAINST unnecessary exposure.
"Unnecessary Exposure" includes the use of ultrasound to:
1. Confirm the sex of the baby.
2. Assess gestational age (how many weeks old the baby is).
3. Assess fetal size and growth.
4. Confirm multiple pregnancy.
5. Determine fetal presentation (the position of the baby in the womb).
Many health care professionals still use ultrasound for these purposes anyway, even though the American Medical Association has not approved its use for these purposes. With the exception of confirming the sex of the baby, all these pieces of information can be obtained with hands-on skills. A fetoscope or stethoscope can detect the baby's heartbeat without the dangers of ultrasound.
According to the World Health Organization and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report, "It is not clear at this time whether ultrasound fetal monitoring is beneficial to the mother or fetus in terms of pregnancy outcome...If there is no generally acknowledged benefit to the monitoring, there is no reason to expose patients to increased cost and risk. The question of benefit has not yet been resolved...and the potential for delayed effects has been virtually ignored."
In other words, Ultrasound technology carries potential risks that have not yet been evaluated, yet many doctors are telling women that there is no risk.
Having an ultrasound is NOT essential to a healthy pregnancy. However, most doctors are trained to use expensive technology and NOT trained to use hands-on skills.
Before you allow an ultrasound to be done on you, do some research, thoroughly question your healthcare provider about safety as well as the value of the information that would be received. Don't be afraid to refuse the test if you are not comfortable with the information you have discovered. It is your constitutional right to refuse any tests you do not want.
To give you some means of comparison, I offer this analogy. Have you seen a woman with an extremely high voice break a glass by singing an extremely high pitched note? That is an example of what just ONE relatively slow sound wave can do. Ultrasound technology is based upon ultra high-frequency sound waves, which bombard the child in the womb at an extremely high rate of speed. If one slow sound wave from a woman's voice can break a glass, what can super high frequency sound waves do to your child? Ultrasound waves in laboratory experiments have been known to damage chromosomes, produce internal cellular heat which damages cells, retard the normal development of cells, and many other phenomenon.
Research That Has Been Done On Ultrasound Technology
"Prenatal exposure to ultrasound waves impacts neuronal migration in mice," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2006 103: 12903-12910.
There is evidence that the exposure of pregnant mice and nonhuman primates to ultrasound waves may affect the behavior of their exposed offspring. Additionally, studies have shown that the frequent exposure of the human fetus to ultrasound waves is associated with a decrease in newborn body weight, an increase in the frequency of left-handedness, and delayed speech.
Because ultrasound energy is a high-frequency mechanical vibration, researchers hypothesized that it might influence the migration of neurons in a developing fetus. Neurons in mammals multiply early in fetal development and then migrate to their final destinations. Any interference or disruption in the process could result in abnormal brain function.
In the study, researchers injected more than 335 fetal mice at embryonic day 16 with special markers to track neuronal development. Exposure to ultrasound waves for 30 minutes or longer caused a small but statistically significant number of neurons to remain scattered within inappropriate cortical layers and in the adjacent white matter. The magnitude of dispersion of labeled neurons was highly variable but increased with duration of exposure to ultrasound waves.
Newnham, J.P., Evans, S.F., Michael, C.A., Stanley, F.J., & Landau, L. I. (1993). Effects of Frequent Ultrasound During Pregnancy: A Randomized Controlled Trial. The Lancet, 342(Oct.9), 887-891.
A study of over 1400 women in Perth, Western Australia compared pregnant mothers who had ultrasound only once during gestation with mothers who had five monthly ultrasounds from 18 weeks to 38 weeks. They found significantly higher intrauterine growth restriction in the intensive ultrasound group. These mothers gave birth to lower weight babies.
The researchers concluded that prenatal ultrasound imaging and Doppler flow exams should be restricted to clinically necessary situations. This recommendation comes at a time when ultrasound during prenatal visits has become increasingly popular and serves as a kind of entertainment feature of office check-up visits.
Campbell, J.D., Elford, R.W. & Brant, R.F. (1993). Case-Controlled Study of Prenatal Ultrasound Exposure in Children with Delayed Speech. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 149(10), 1435-1440.
Delayed speech is not a pathological or organic syndrome but developmentally defined symptom complex. Clinicians have noted an increased incidence of delayed speech in pediatric patients.
This is a matched-case control study of 72 children 2 to 8 years old presenting with delayed speech of unknown cause. The children were measured for articulation, language comprehension, language production, meta-linguisticskills, and verbal memory. When checked for ultrasound exposure, the speech-delayed children were about twice as likely to have been exposed to ultrasound than the matched controls.
The authors believe that delayed speech is a sensitive measure reflecting sub-optimal conditions for development. If ultrasound can cause developmental delays, the authors are concerned about the routine use of ultrasound and they warn against it.
Devi, P.U., Suresh, R., & Hande, M.P. (1995). Effect of fetal exposure to ultrasound on the behavior of the adult mouse. Radiat Res (QMP), 141(3), 314-7.
Pregnant Swiss albino mice were exposed to diagnostic ultrasound. There were significant alterations in behavior in all three exposed groups as revealed by the decreased locomotor and exploratory activity and the increase in the number of trials needed for learning. These results indicate that ultrasound exposure during the early fetal period can impair brain function in the adult mouse.
Hande, M.P., & Devi, P.U. (1995). Teratogenic effects of repeated exposures to X-rays and/or ultrasound in mice. Neurotoxicol Teratol (NAT), 17(2), 179-88.
Pregnant Swiss mice were exposed to ultrasound, x-rays, and combinations of the two. Effects on prenatal development, postnatal growth and adult behavior were studied. U + U group showed an increase in percent growth retarded fetuses. The postnatal mortality was significantly higher only in the U + U group. In the X + U group, the exploratory activity was affected at 6 months of age. There was a significant change in the locomotor activity with a reduction in the total activity as 3 and 6 months of age in the U + U group. Latency in learning capacity was also noticed in this group. The results indicate that repeated exposures to ultrasound or its combination with X-rays could be detrimental to the embryonic development and can impair adult brain function when administered at certain stages of organogenesis.
There are many other studies that have been done, but no one seems to be paying attention to them.
Don't allow yourself to be the next guinea pig.
All the studies above address the issue of physical safety of ultrasound procedures. Ultrasound also has some very serious emotional and psychosocial side effects.
When an ultrasound is done, and the results are questionable, it can be an emotional rollarcoaster. Ultrasound technicians are wrong as often as they are right, and when a family is told that their unborn baby has some kind of defect, they will spend the rest of the pregnancy worrying, crying, and in some cases, may abort the baby because they are assured it has an abnormality.
Click Here to read an article called "Mother Rails Against Ultrasound" which chronicles one family's terrible experience with the inaccuracy of this test. In 1993, the results of the largest study ever done on ultrasound were published. It was called the RADIUS study. The original results were reported in these publications if you would like to get a copy of the study and read it for yourself.
Ewigman, B., Crane, J.P., Frigoletto, F.D., et al. Impact of prenatal ultrasound screening on perinatal outcome. N Engl J Med 1993 Sept 16;329:821-7.
LeFevre, M., Bain, R., Ewigman, B., et al. A randomized trial of prenatal ultrasound screening: Impact on maternal management and outcome. Am J Obstet Gynecol 1993 Sept 15;169:483-9.
Basically, the study, the largest of its kind to date, states that routine ultrasound does not benefit mothers or babies in terms of pregnancy outcome. It did not reduce the number of infant or maternal deaths, and it did not lead to better care for the newborn. The only thing it did was expose the families to increased cost and risk.
One thing that is irritating are the statements commentators have made about these studies. Particularly after the 2006 publication by the National Academy of Science.. Websites like the American Academy of Radiologic Technologists stated that
It was emphasized that the study does not mean that ultrasound use on human fetuses for appropriate diagnostic and medical purposes should be abandoned.
"On the contrary: ultrasound has been shown to be very beneficial in the medical context. Instead, our study warns against its non-medical use."
Do they think we are stupid? There is no difference between medical and non-medical exposure. In the hands of a doctor, it is no more safe than when done for recreational purposes.
I encourage you to do your own research, and don't listen to people's opinions, but look at the actual research that has been done. Then look deep inside yourself and consult your own inner wisdom. After reading my other article about the safety issues involved with ultrasound exposure, what does your inner wisdom tell you? Listen for that little voice to answer. Does the whole concept of ultrasound seem safe, effective, necessary, and helpful? I wish you luck in your pregnancy and birth.