Ultrasound is an incredible tool that has numerous applications. Proper use can save lives.
However, there are many papers in the scientific literature that raise questions about the safety of exposing a fetus to ultrasound. Many parents are told that prenatal ultrasound is perfectly safe by someone. This is not science fact.
There’s a lot to read for the full story, but let me highlight some important parts for you.
1. Ultrasound has side effects. It heats and shakes up things. It is known to cause growth, alter metabolism, cell signalling, and a variety of other effects. You can find links to relevant scientific papers throughout this blog. The picture you see on the right is from a study performed at Yale where upwards of 30min ultrasound exposure caused neurons to grow improperly in mice. You can check out the study here: http://www.pnas.org/content/103/34/12903
2. Not only is it legal for just about anyone to perform an ultrasound, practitioners are not required to record the amount of ultrasound used during scans. This leads to no accountability, and no ability for researchers to make dose-based risk assessment. Safety assurances for prenatal scanning are based on anecdotal evidence (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2390856/).
3. There are no laws in the USA (and most countries) requiring that ultrasound devices are properly calibrated. Old equipment will produce worse pictures, which can be compensated for by increasing the intensity and duration of a scan. Some studies suggest upwards of 40% of units in circulation are currently defective (http://ehjcimaging.oxfordjournals.org/content/10/3/389.full.pdf).
4. Multiple side effects of ultrasonic exposure noted in literature are very similar to symptoms seen in autism. Further concerning, the progression of obstetrical sonography and ASD have progressed in very similar exponential manners, in very similar time frames, and affect very similar demographics. Correlation is NOT causation, but this is more than just one red flag. More research is needed to ensure the safety of modern practice.
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- AIMS questions the safety of prenatal ultrasound (fetalsonosafety.com)
- Reassessment of teratogenic risk from prenatal ultrasound (fetalsonosafety.com)
- Dr. Sarah Buckley, safety concerns about prenatal sonography, published in 2005 (fetalsonosafety.com)
- Sign this petition to vie for sonogram safety! (fetalsonosafety.com)