Stop using ultrasound to determine sex of fetuses, urge doctors, radiologists
“Canada’s pregnancy specialists and the nation’s radiologists are calling for a halt on using ultrasound for the sole purpose of determining the sex of an unborn fetus.
In a new joint policy statement, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada and the Canadian Association of Radiologists also say it could be considered unethical for private, commercial clinics to offer “entertainment” ultrasounds purely for the purpose of creating “keepsake” videos for expectant parents.
The position statement comes amid mounting concerns that in Canada, people are using ultrasound to determine the sex of a fetus early in pregnancy and to have it aborted if it is a girl.”
CMAJ. 1993 Nov 15;149(10):1435-40.
Case-control study of prenatal ultrasonography exposure in children with delayed speech.
Campbell JD, Elford RW, Brant RF.
Department of Surgery, University of Calgary, Alta.
To determine whether there is an association between prenatal ultrasound exposure and delayed speech in children.
Network of community physicians affiliated with the Primary Care Research Unit, University of Calgary.
Thirty-four practitioners identified 72 children aged 24 to 100 months who had undergone a formal speech-language evaluation and were found to have delayed speech of unknown cause by a speech-language pathologist. For each case subject the practitioners found two control subjects matched for sex, date of birth, sibling birth order and associated health problems.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:
Rates of prenatal ultrasound exposure and delayed speech.
The children with delayed speech had a higher rate of ultrasound exposure than the control subjects. The findings suggest that a child with delayed speech is about twice as likely as a child without delayed speech to have been exposed to prenatal ultrasound waves (odds ratio 2.8, 95% confidence limit 1.5 to 5.3; p = 0.001).
An association between prenatal ultrasonography exposure and delayed speech was found. If there is no obvious clinical indication for diagnostic in-utero ultrasonography, physicians might be wise to caution their patients about the vulnerability of the fetus to noxious agents.
Nature Reviews Neuroscience 11, 490-502 (July 2010) | doi:10.1038/nrn2851
Behavioural phenotyping assays for mouse models of autism
Jill L. Silverman, Mu Yang, Catherine Lord & Jacqueline N. Crawley
Autism is a heterogeneous neurodevelopmental disorder of unknown aetiology that affects 1 in 100–150 individuals. Diagnosis is based on three categories of behavioural criteria: abnormal social interactions, communication deficits and repetitive behaviours. Strong evidence for a genetic basis has prompted the development of mouse models with targeted mutations in candidate genes for autism. As the diagnostic criteria for autism are behavioural, phenotyping these mouse models requires behavioural assays with high relevance to each category of the diagnostic symptoms. Behavioural neuroscientists are generating a comprehensive set of assays for social interaction, communication and repetitive behaviours to test hypotheses about the causes of austism. Robust phenotypes in mouse models hold great promise as translational tools for discovering effective treatments for components of autism spectrum disorders.
A few years ago, a 12 year old girl was admitted to a hospital for heart murmurs. A defective ultrasound transducer was used and they could not detect why the murmurs occurred. Repeating this procedure (nearly 2 years later) with a different machine showed dramatically different results.
This prompted a study in which 32 hospitals were censused for the efficacy of their ultrasound units. 39.8% of transducers were found defective.
Sonographers cannot tell when a transducer is defective intuitively, it just makes the picture worse. Oftentimes they will compensate by turning up the power to get a more clear image. Ob-Gyn ultrasound suffers the same problem, and this will expose our children to unnecessarily high intensities.
Watch the video to learn more –
Transvaginal ultrasound is when a sonographer inserts an ultrasound transducer into a woman’s vagina for internal imaging. They can detect a variety of conditions, including but not limiting to cancers or other growths, fluid deposits, bone damage, . . . it is useful for many valid diagnostic reasons.
There are, however, some risks associated with having the transducer closer to the fetus: One study detected damage in microvilli extracted from fetuses exposed to transabdominal ultrasound, but not transvaginal for the same duration: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11776185
[Influence of sonographic examination on embryo villi during early pregnancy].
To evaluate the effects of sonographic examination on embryo villi during early pregnancy.
Eighty early pregnant women intended for artificial abortion were divided into 4 groups: group I served as control, the remaining 3 groups underwent pelvic sonographic examination transabdominally for 10 minutes (group II), transvaginally for 3 minutes (group III) or for 10 minutes (group IV) respectively. After 1 hour embryo villi were obtained through artificial abortion and examined by electronic microscopy, biochemical methods and sister chromatid exchanges (SCE).
In group IV, but not group II, III, the embryo microvilli were found broken, lost and disarranged. The rough endoplasmic reticulum of trophoblasts expanded. Their malondial dehyde levels increased while the superoxide dismutase (SOD) decreased as compared with control (P < 0.01). There was no difference of SCE among these 4 groups.
It is recommended that sonographic examination should be done through abdominal approach for shorter than 10 minutes during early stage of pregnancy.
I thought this correlation was concerning. While the ultrasound hearing study dismisses that ultrasound can cause damage to hearing as though it were nothing big, perhaps the improved hearing in infants is a red flag that ultrasound could be promoting auditory hypersensitivity.
This would not have to be a big thing — ASD is a gradient, right? So, children who were near threshhold would be tipped over, while it may possibly help infants with worse hearing. There’s two sides to every coin, and every tool can harm or heal.
For individuals with autism spectrum disorder or ‘ASD’ the ability to accurately process and interpret auditory information is often difficult. Here we review behavioural, neurophysiological and imaging literature pertaining to this field with the aim of providing a comprehensive account of auditory processing in ASD, and thus an effective tool to aid further research. Literature was sourced from peer-reviewed journals published over the last two decades which best represent research conducted in these areas. Findings show substantial evidence for atypical processing of auditory information in ASD at behavioural and neural levels. Abnormalities are diverse, ranging from atypical perception of various low-level perceptual features (i.e. pitch, loudness) to processing of more complex auditory information such as prosody. Trends across studies suggest auditory processing impairments in ASD are most likely to present during processing of complex auditory information and are more severe for speech than for non-speech stimuli. The interpretation of these findings with respect to various cognitive accounts of ASD is discussed and suggestions offered for further research.
Prenatal ultrasound exams have become increasingly frequent. Although no serious adverse effects are known, the public health implications would be enormous should adverse effects on auditory development be shown. This study looks to establish a possible correlation between hearing loss and increased prenatal ultrasound exposure.
Our results show that there is no correlation between a higher level of prenatal ultrasound exposure and hearing loss. Indeed, infants who had more prenatal ultrasounds in the third trimester were more likely to pass their screening hearing exams. The finding that children receiving more prenatal ultrasounds have a higher likelihood of passing newborn hearing screens serves as an excellent reminder of the classic statistics rule that correlation does not imply causation.
“As a CNM, I frequently have patients upset or disappointed that we don’t do frequent US. I try to explain that US has proven effects on fetus, but it makes little impression on them, since no one has ever heard of this. I agree more research is needed, as well as mainstream education.”
– Michelle Hughes – PFLUGERVILLE, TX
Quote from comments at: https://www.change.org/petitions/health-risks-of-prenatal-ultrasound-the-urgent-need-for-more-research-and-regulation
The past few months have done nothing but emphasize to anyone who is concerned about important issues that mainstream media is a soap opera. They cover what stirs up the most views, and rarely focus on things that matter.
What concerns me grievously about this whole mess with ultrasound is the lack of education. Many people do not even know ultrasound has side effects in the first place. Even practitioners often discount the idea that it can cause harm to a baby, even though scientific evidence offers much evidence to the contrary.
Practitioners are not scientists, they study practice. They are not physicists, although they do look at statistics. Admittedly, it is not their fault for not knowing everything, but now that information about serious safety concerns in their practice is evident, it is time for things to change.
Check out my blog to read about some of these issues, and be sure to sign the petition for better safety and regulation for prenatal sonography. A great number of our species are exposed to it, and our choices with how we handle that, and educate our communities, will directly affect their fate.