Dr. John You, clinical epidemiologist, raises concern that the number of prenatal sonograms prescribed is excessive

Dr. John You, clinical epidemiologist, raises concern that the number of prenatal sonograms prescribed is excessive

It would be very difficult for me to make this point any better than the summary for the paper does.

For primary article visit:

For lay summary visit:

So.. in a decade, prenatal ultrasounds are up 55 percent. This is not right. There are supposed to be things in place like ALARA (As Low As Reasonably Achievable) and othersuch principles that insist that radiologists perform as few ultrasounds as possible to get the image they need.

Why is the number going up? …probably a mix between misinformation, a lack of public awareness, and tangible profit vs unknown patient risks.

Since ultrasounds are highly profitable procedures requiring very little reagents (pennies worth of KY jelly) and have little known risk, it is easy to coerce many patients into receiving numerous ones. It’s also easy to sleep at night if you are on the side that believes ultrasound to be safe because of a lack of absolutely irrefutable evidence (not evidence of absence, mind you).

I believe that the advent of 3D and first trimester scans have trespassed into a risky territory. They encourage people to look at the baby for longer. First trimester scanning is also risky because that is when the foundations of the brain and other such organs are being built. Early times in fetal development are the most sensitive to disruption.

Since there have been so many studies that raise question about the side effects of ultrasound, why — at the very least — is not more research being funded?

I realize that ultrasound must be a hugely profitable business, but still… I guess that it is truly difficult to force innovation. Money is only paper and people can’t just wish for discoveries to appear using it…

But I also believe in evidence based care, and there is not sufficient evidence to prove to me that even routine ultrasound scans are benign.

In a previous post I discuss the difficulties of epidemiology. There is no proof that ultrasound is safe for fetal development even at modern intensities because no dose data is collected by practitioners. Therefore no study can say for certain that ultrasound is not linked to effects like autism, ADHD, or what have you.

Considering how ultrasound affects the development of plants, bacteria, and the various organism models such as mouse brains/gonads etc as noted in earlier posts, …it really makes me wonder.


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