Tuesday, December 2, 2004— Multiple ultrasound exams during pregnancy are unlikely to cause any long-term harm to the growing fetus, according to a new study that verifies the long-term safety of the routinely used treatment. The research also found that multiple scans did not increase the risk of major birth defects or death before or after birth.
The study, published in the January 2005 issue of the journal Radiology, looked at more than 7,000 infants born between 1992 and 1998 who were monitored for birth defects through their first year of life. It found that children who had undergone multiple ultrasound examinations during pregnancy did not have an increased risk of problems such as brain damage, heart disease, diabetes, or deafness. The researchers concluded that the benefits of these tests often outweigh the risks. "Our data indicate that there is no evidence that multiple fetal ultrasound examinations adversely affect offspring outcome," said study author Dr. Steven K. Guttmacher, chairman of radiology at St. Luke's Hospital in New York City.
Ultrasound uses sound waves to create images of body tissues. The test is performed with sound waves of several different frequencies. These waves pass through tissue types such as fat, muscle, and bone but not organs such as the liver or kidneys.
Every medical treatment has some level of risk. However, there is no evidence that a properly performed prenatal ultrasound would damage a mother or her unborn child.
The only known adverse effect of routine ultrasound examinations is the potential to cause psychological harm by exposing children to large amounts of radiation. But this risk is very small; studies have shown that between 10 and 20 millisieverts of radiation exposure over the course of a pregnancy are typical. This is well below the limits of safety set by governments around the world.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends against using routine ultrasound during pregnancy as a method of screening for birth defects or other problems. The ACOG says that such exams provide no benefit to women or their babies and may expose both to harmful levels of radiation. They also note that many labs now offer non-radiation alternatives for imaging fetal organs.
However, ACOG does support using ultrasound to monitor growth of the fetus and to look for signs of fetal health issues. These scans should be performed early in pregnancy and at least once per month thereafter.
As with any other medical intervention, parents should only consent to procedures that are in the best interest of their child.
"A study of over 50 medical research found that ultrasounds are not harmful to mothers or fetuses. They do not cause birth abnormalities, developmental or intellectual issues in children, or cancer." - From WebMD.
There is no proof that ultrasounds damage a growing fetus, according to both the FDA and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). There is no use of radiation or x-rays in the tests. Instead, sound waves are used to create images of the fetus inside the mother's body.
An ultrasound exam uses high-frequency sounds to construct an image of the fetus within the mother's body. The technology has advanced so that now it is possible to see detailed pictures of the fetus's face, arms, legs, organs, and even its chromosomes. Ultrasound examinations do not pose any risk of harm to the fetus. They are safe throughout pregnancy and offer valuable information about the health of the baby.
As with all medical tests, there is a chance of injury or infection when using ultrasound. Injuries include hematoma (where blood collects under the skin), petechiae (small red spots caused by bleeding into the circulation), and ecchymosis (discoloration of the skin due to trauma). Infections include impetigo (a bacterial skin disease) and cellulitis (an inflammation of the skin). These risks can be reduced by following proper safety procedures. Your doctor will tell you what these are and show you how to perform them before you begin the test.
Ultrasound is widely used in prenatal care.
What are the dangers of a screening pregnancy ultrasound at 18–20 weeks? There are no known hazards to getting an abdominal ultrasonography for either the baby or the mother. Ultrasound creates pictures by using high-frequency soundwaves; there is no radiation involved. In certain obese patients, the examination quality may be compromised. That's why it's important to evaluate body mass index prior to the exam.
Other than that, the risk associated with this test is very low. The tests should not be performed on women who have breast implants because of the possible damage that could occur to the implant.
An ultrasound can show problems with the baby's heart, lungs, stomach, brain, and other organs in detail not seen on other forms of imaging. It is one of the most useful tools in assessing fetal health.
The only potential hazard related to sonograms is if you have an allergy to latex. Latex products, such as balloons, gloves, and pacifiers used during the exam may cause an allergic reaction in some people.
People who think they may be allergic to latex should not get an ultrasound because doing so could worsen their condition. In addition to causing an allergic reaction, latex particles can find their way into the bloodstream through small cuts on the hand or arm where it was attached to the machine. This can lead to reactions elsewhere in the body.
Ultrasound can be a standard examination, but it can also be a high-risk test if the doctor is assessing a specific high-risk condition, such as pre-eclampsia, intrauterine growth restriction, placenta previa, and so on. During a high-risk ultrasound, the doctor may need to perform additional tests or follow up with you later in your pregnancy.
You should discuss any concerns you have with your doctor before getting an ultrasound. He or she will be able to tell you what kind of scan it is and how risky it is for you. This information will help you make an informed decision about whether or not to proceed with the procedure.
There are two types of ultrasound scans: abdominal and fetal. They both use sound waves to create pictures of the inside of your body, but they do so at different times during your pregnancy. Abdominal ultrasounds look at organs such as the liver, pancreas, spleen, stomach, intestines, and kidneys. Fetal ultrasounds examine the contents of the uterus including the fetus and the placenta.
Abdominal and fetal ultrasounds are both safe procedures that can reveal important information about your baby's health and the quality of your pregnancy. However, there are risks associated with each type of scan.