Is Prenatal Sonography Safe? Ep.1: Shortcomings in Epidemiology

This video is a review of what science currently understands about the safety of prenatal ultrasonography.

The short version: medicine does not yet fully understand how ultrasound affects the body, and there has been little research into it. When a practitioner tells you that sonography is perfectly harmless/completely safe, that is not backed by scientific evidence.

Considering that almost every woman in the world gets an ultrasound (or more) during pregnancy, this is unacceptable.


Educate those you care for through social media, share this information about prenatal ultrasound risks to protect their future children

Educate those you care for through social media, share this information about prenatal ultrasound risks to protect their future children

“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:

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.

Prenatal sonography – the urgent need for more research and better regulation

Prenatal sonography – the urgent need for more research and better regulation


Despite ultrasound being utilized in nearly every modern pregnancy, its safety is highly questionable.  Many parents are told that ultrasound is completely safe, but this is not science fact.  The unfortunate truth is that no sonographer or doctor knows what ultrasound exposure will do to your baby — they can’t, no scientist fully understands yet.

This petition was written as an attempt to raise awareness of this issue and to gather people together.  Shortcomings in safety regulation are just one part of a greater combination of problems with obstetrical care.  It seems like women are losing control of their pregnancies more and more, and money seems to lead modern practice more than conservative methods to ensure patient safety.  Practitioners receive more pay in exchange for encouraging patients to receive more treatments than absolutely necessary.

Today was a landmark day for our petition.  We raised nearing 500 signatures in a single day.  Thank you, everybody.  If you have not, please sign and share:

Prenatal exposure to ultrasound waves: is there a risk?

Prenatal exposure to ultrasound waves: is there a risk?

Written as a retort to the Yale study by Ang, et all in 2006 which detected brain growth abnormalities after ultrasonic exposure…

These fellows discuss some of the dissimilarities between the Ang study using mice and actual prenatal conditions. Although it is true that the Ang study’s results are not perfectly linear, such can be expected from such a study.

Of note:
* Ang noted ultrasound to cause brain growth problems at intensities an order of magnitude or so lower than modern intensities. (meaning modern prenatal ultrasound is stronger, and may have more impact)

* The thermal and mechanical indices are not great guestimations, meaning that US scanners do not accurately report risks.

* Rats are not perfect models for human brains.

I have a comment about some of the response, too. In this paper they discuss later-trimester fetal skulls to be stronger — while it is true that they do become more developed, the fetal skull is pretty soft, still.

In fact, it has similar acoustic indices as water. Adult skulls that are well ossified are much better acoustic absorbers.

I also found it interesting that Republican Joe Pennacchio had attempted to introduce legislation into the investigation of ultrasound and autism.

These are not new concerns.

Transvaginal ultrasounds cause more cellular damage than transabdominal ultrasounds

Transvaginal ultrasounds cause more cellular damage than transabdominal ultrasounds

I wanted to reiterate a point brought up in previous post of:

Transvaginal ultrasound is closer to the fetus, offers more direct exposure, and is more invasive than transabdominal scanning. As a male I am degrees separated from this, but I would expect at least dinner and a date before this kind of treatment.

The process of transvaginal scanning can be very intrusive, leading to stress. Stress while pregnant has been correlated with a variety of negative health outcomes.

So, aside from being more physically harmful to cellular environments, it is more harmful on a grand scale because of stress (unless the lady is just into that kind of thing with strangers in lab coats)…

Biological effects of diagnostic ultrasound on embryo in first trimester of pregnancy

Biological effects of diagnostic ultrasound on embryo in first trimester of pregnancy

When ultrasound passes through certain types of enzymes, depending on the mechanism of reaction involved, it can impart energy.  This energy leads to altered chemical reaction rates (increase/decrease in how many chemical reactions occur given in a certain timeframe).

This has been noted in alpha-amylase and other glycoside hydrolase class enzymes, and also some enzymes involved in transesterification.

Diagnostic ultrasound — which is used for fetal imaging — can alter enzyme activity, too.

In plants, the way ultrasound affects enzymes can change the plant’s lifelong development. Exposure to ultrasound at seed super charges enzymes involved in breaking down starch into nutrients, which is important for the first developing seedling.

It has not been studied how ultrasound’s impact on enzymes affects human development. It should be. We need more research to ensure that routine fetal scanning is not causing unintended harm.

Dr. Sarah Buckley, safety concerns about prenatal sonography, published in 2005

Dr. Sarah Buckley, safety concerns about prenatal sonography, published in 2005

Dr. Sarah Buckley, MD, created this website back in 2005. To summarize: studies estimate 99% of Australians, 70% of North American pregnancies involve prenatal ultrasound…why? It is very risky. Using it as a screening tool for abnormalities is exposing a majority of the population and this is dangerous.

I agree.. it’s a problem that is mostly propagated because of business success. Every individual mother is going to want baby pictures, making it a viral market. With the advent of social media pictures are self advertising treasures.

Yet, not enough research has been done to prove that they are safe yet. Research takes a lot of time, especially when there is no fountain of money just waiting.

There have been many side effects discovered in animal models, but ethics issues preclude human studies. So the safety assessments released have concluded safety based on lack of evidence.

The side effects discovered already urgently demand further attention… more research is required. Consider reblogging this message because more people need to know about these risks. Apparently the message didn’t get out in 2005.

Our future generation’s health is seriously called to question here.