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.”
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 –
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.
I had the pleasure to exchange discussion with Dr. Toms recently. To business, I do find his webpage self evident. Have a look yourself.
In his website he gives a thorough and well rounded description of ultrasound, but also discusses shortcomings in the research. He does not believe that ultrasound is very harmful, but earnestly raises concern that safety is not science fact.
I personally believe that ultrasound is a very promising tool that has great potential for good. Conservative use of it is the safest way to handle it until at least epidemiology can be performed. Until then, it is really a coin flip as to how ultrasound affects human development.
There are plenty of studies that suggest ultrasound of levels well below the intensity allowed in fetal scanning have potentially harmful bioeffects. Especially those that have been seen to directly alter the development of plants and bacteria …
True, it might not be autism or other mental illnesses known right now. Maybe ultrasound makes people smarter. I don’t know.
But it does something, and it’s definitely worth investigating further. Cures for diseases could be found, new applications, …ultrasound will harken a new era of medicine, I believe. I’ve read plenty of good things about ultrasound, too.