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How bad are ultrasounds, really?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
When I got pregnant I calculated my 40 weeks from the first day of my LMP like you are supposed to, and that put my due date at Jan 5. When I went at 19wk for my u/s they moved my due date up because the baby was right in the 21wk percentiles. However, I distinctly remember my LMP because it was an important day for DH (first day of the final four here in Indy lol).
So, when I switched to a MW from an OB/GYN they asked about my LMP and due to placenta brain I couldn't remember it. So, they calculated it based on the new due date and put that in my chart.
As time grew nearer to my due date I made sure to bring it up with my MW because I didn't want to be pressured into induction. She (the only one of four MWs in my group that I don't care for) didn't seem to care about my actual LMP and wanted to go by what is in the chart. So, she schedualed an ultrasound for me on Thursday and said that they'll want to induce on the 8th I'm not sure what to do.
According to my LMP I wont even have reached my due date on Thursday, but according to my chart I'll be two weeks overdue. I know my body well and don't feel like this baby is comming this week, so the hope of having the baby before the US is pretty much NIL. I'm afraid they'll want to induce if the baby is big (even though two MWs have felt it and said they expect 8 or 9lb-not that big to me). I'm also afraid they'll be pressuring me to induce when I KNOW that I'm not overdue. I know I can refuse the induction but I'm wondering if it would be best to just not have the ultrasound?
On top of all of this I have heard that ultrasounds are bad for the baby, but I've never really heard why or how bad they are. Can anyone provide me with more info to help me make my decision? I'm feeling a little overwhelmed and need some support on this.
post #2 of 20
Okay first and foremost, do not let them induce you without a good reason. Even if you do go post dates your placenta does not just stop working, a healthy mother with a healthy baby will have a healthy placenta. You have EVERY right to refuse medical induction, it will do nothing beneficial to your baby and will likely make his/her arrival into the world more complicated.

To answer your question, it is unknown the true long term effects of ultrasounds, x-rays were used for countless years in shoe shops before they realized how dangerous they were, god forbid the same happen with ultrasounds. There is some debate as to whether or not they can lead to growth restriction, but like I said, it is unknown. Also late term ultrasounds can sometimes lead the practitioner to become more concerned if they find low fluid levels, even when it is temporary and the fluid levels come back up.

If you want to help your body get ready for labor, start taking Evening primrose oil orally and vaginally in the pm and that will help to soften your cervix. Good luck with whatever comes.
post #3 of 20
Opinions on the effect of ultrasounds vary widely. There has been no absolute proof that they are bad for the baby (i know some will probably say otherwise-like i said the difference in opinions is definitely there on this one). My personal opinion is that in your case, if it helps you have peace of mind and will shed some light on the baby's well being then its worth it...getting induced just because they have your due date wrong would be horrible. It would suck to end up with a bunch of interventions because baby wasnt ready to come...
post #4 of 20
I am currently 9 weeks pregnant and have yet to get an ultrasound because of the debate out on it's effects. Although I probably will go ahead and at least have one to make sure everything is alright I certainly will not be begging for more. I've been searching for information and this article caught my eye... thought it might be of use.

http://www.midwiferytoday.com/articl...undrodgers.asp

Don't want to be spreading any misinformation just thought I'd share what I've found.
post #5 of 20
after so much personal worry and debate and research over ultrasounds, i have learned that they have been in regular use for 25 years and no side effects have been found, though no official studies have been conducted, so all we have is ancedotal evidence.

(i have also learned that they are very different from x-rays, so the comparison is not apt.)

a recent yale study showed tissues in mice heating up after 2 hours plus under the ultrasound. (NOT common for humans of course, it's more like 2-5 minutes) but no mutations that i know of.

i talked with my nurse for a long time about it. granted she is far from a mothering dot commune type, but she did tell me that when she first was a nurse, 25 years ago plus, the doc she worked for used his own pregnant wife as a guinea pig. yes, he used ultrasounds DAILY on his wife. and their 25 year old child is perfect, according to her. though of course, 25 is still very young and anything could happen. (sort of a strange story)

i also asked the midwife who works at my OBs office. i was concerned about any autism/ultrasound link. again, just anecdotal evidence here, but she said she knows of at least a dozen babies, that she delivered, that had zero ultrasounds in utero, and turned out with autism. so no link there, apparently.

i would say for a good medical reason i would do ultrasound. but never for "entertainment" or anything lilke that. and i would ask them to be as quick as humanly possible about it.

deb
post #6 of 20
I don't plan on having any ultrasounds at all, for a couple reasons. The ambiguous safety issue, for one. We don't know, we just don't know, and I'd rather not be part of this big experiment. In the last issue of Mothering there was a short article about the Am. Academy of Pediatrics and an ultra sound technology organization, and how they are both publicly stating that the safety of u/s is not guaranteed, and that the technology was never meant to be used in such a cavalier way. I think it has its place, but that place is high risk pregnancies with complications.
The other reason is that I see u/s as an intervention, challenging the natural faith and body awareness that most pregnant women have naturally. I have faith in my pregnancy, my body and my baby, and don't see any reasons to have an u/s to "check" on things, "just in case".

You said you feel good and that you don't feel like the baby is ready to come yet. LISTEN TO YOUR OWN INTUITION!!!! Don't let a mw or anybody else bully you into a decision that you feel in your heart to be inappropriate. You don't need to have another u/s. You definitely don't need to be induced!!!
In your situation I would just avoid the u/s altogether, because I think it would just be giving the mw what SHE wants, not what YOU want or need. If you KNOW you are not overdue, if you know your babe is doing just fine, why play the game to begin with? I could see after the u/s the mw ratcheting up the pressure for induction, b/c the baby's so "big".
Good luck, mama.
post #7 of 20
A friend of mine, because of her high risk pregnancies, had weekly u/s for the first trimester, and quite a few after that. Her children are perfectly fine. I know a lot of women who have had many to none.....I have seen no difference in their children (that an u/s would make). Just normal differences.
I personally don't understand the hysteria. There are many "unknowns" in pregancy, regardless of whether or not you have a hospital birth, home birth or UC. We all take risks, no matter what. You just have to decide what risks you are willing to take, and how you and your baby can benefit (or not) from taking such risks. IMO...relying on ituition carries risks (sometimes severe) as well.
You just have to decide what you're comfortable with and take a stand.
post #8 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by tofutti View Post
a recent yale study showed tissues in mice heating up after 2 hours plus under the ultrasound. (NOT common for humans of course, it's more like 2-5 minutes) but no mutations that i know of.
The mice were affected...
Quote:
After the mouse pups were born, the team examined brain slices. In animals whose mothers had had ultrasound sessions that added up to 30 minutes or more, the scientists found that a significant number of neurons destined for the brain's outer layers of gray matter had become improperly embedded in inner layers of white matter.
http://www.sciencenews.org/articles/20060812/fob1.asp
Quote:
The mouse results reinforce guidelines set by the Food and Drug Administration, says pediatric neurologist Verne Caviness of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. "The basic guidelines in this country suggest using ultrasound as little as possible," he says. "Baby pictures aren't a justifiable use for this technology."
This is inline with the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine's Prudent Use Statement: http://www.aium.org/publications/sta...sp?statement=2

Basically, they don't know, it's not really been studied.
post #9 of 20
I think when weighing interventions such as ultrasounds, inductions, etc, it is a risk to bennefit issue. Does the risk outway the bennefit or bennefit outway the risk? This is a very personal question & only you can answer it. Good Luck.
post #10 of 20
OH i forgot to add why i decided to go ahead with the 20 week ultrasound (for all of you following along at home )

the chances of any baby having a congential heart defect of some kind is about 1-in-150

ultrasound can help save the babys life -- since many heart issues can be detected on ultrasound, and if there is a problem found, arrange to have a heart doc in the delivery room, and in many cases, seconds matter! i would hate myself if i skipped the ultrasound (which we don't know if its bad or good) and could have prevented a life-threatening heart issue (which we know is bad).....

this was the single thing that sent me over the edge to ultrasound, FYI. i had NO IDEA heart issues were so common.

deb
post #11 of 20
i would absolutely refuse to go by an US date if I knew my conception date.

Any provider who would rather go by an US than my own knowledge would be fired immediately, they are NOT someone you want around you during birth.
post #12 of 20
I was actually in school studying to become an u/s tech when I became pregnant with my daughter. After learning the exact Physics of how an ultrasound works, I would not hesitate to get an u/s or two when pregnant.

I do believe that the benefits outweigh the risks. Ultrasounds can see things that we wouldn't know otherwise, including any congenital defects requiring immediate medical attention upon delivery.

I don't think they should be used for 'fun' nor for measurement purposes beyond early in the first trimester. After 8 weeks or so, there is just such a discrepancy in measurement, nothing is definite and should never be taken as accurate - only estimation.

So to answer your title - I don't think ultrasounds are bad for the fetus, when used as little as possible.

But in regard to your post, I don't think that an u/s is a good idea as a pp mentioned a radiologist could suggest induction due to size, fluid levels, etc. when it isn't really necessary.
post #13 of 20
19 weeks is a bit late for accurate dating anyway. If you know your LMP, then go by that. I can't believe they would change your dates--ultraound measurments can be *way* off. :

If you are willing to put up with NST's and nagging from your midwives, skip the induction.
post #14 of 20
FWIW, I got an u/s when I was 8 weeks pg with dd because I thought I was experiencing and ectopic pregnancy. Thank goddess she was fine. I hadn't had any intentions of getting any u/s at all due to no one really knowing exactly how it is affecting the babies. In that u/s they told me that my edd was May 20th. According to my LMP which was totally accurate, I was due May 28th. She didn't come until June 11th. I had a homebirth and my mw was very flexible about due dates, but if I would have been planning a hospital birth I would have been induced for sure. I'm glad we decided to not use the edd that the u/s gave us.
post #15 of 20
post #16 of 20
thank you danelle -- your info looks better than mine.

here is a link that cites 1-in-125:

http://pregnancy.about.com/cs/fetalsurgery/a/aachd.htm

this says 1-in-100:

http://www.kidshealth.org/parent/sys...rt_defect.html


?so who knows?

deb
post #17 of 20
I think that in this case the risk of the ultrasound to the baby is less of an issue than the risk of the tech finding SOME reason to induce (you already had one, after all). I would talk to one of your other midwives, one who you think is reasonable, about the whole due date mix-up. Maybe find an article stating that U/S at 19 weeks isn't as accurate for dating, and take that with you. At this stage in the game, an U/S isn't really necessary, and is likely to give them more ammunition.

Just for full disclosure, and so you know where I'm coming from, here's my stance/experience with U/S. I avoid U/S if at all possible. I don't think that there is enough information out there on the safety of U/S. I don't think that there should be routine U/S at any time during pg. But, I do think that they have their place, in high-risk pg, esp. (although I think that pg are sometimes labeled high-risk for pretty bogus reasons). And, for someone who avoids U/S, I sure do have them . I had two with ds, because he went past 2 wks. post date (based on my own calculations), and my midwives couldn't continue with me legally if I didn't have U/S. And I'm having one this time, because we're suspecting possible twins. I agonized over the decision both times.

I also know that too much testing can lead to too many interventions (and worry for the mom). And that, I think, is the real concern/issue for you to consider.
post #18 of 20
As for the safety, do a search in this forum, and you'll find a lot more info than what's been given in this thread. If I weren't so tired, I'd look it up for you now. Basically, there's no studies showing safety (it's just assumed), but there are studies with enough evidence showing the possibility of problems (mainly neurological, iirc) to warrant caution.
post #19 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by frenchie View Post
A friend of mine, because of her high risk pregnancies, had weekly u/s for the first trimester, and quite a few after that. Her children are perfectly fine. I know a lot of women who have had many to none.....I have seen no difference in their children (that an u/s would make). Just normal differences.
I personally don't understand the hysteria. There are many "unknowns" in pregancy, regardless of whether or not you have a hospital birth, home birth or UC. We all take risks, no matter what. You just have to decide what risks you are willing to take, and how you and your baby can benefit (or not) from taking such risks. IMO...relying on ituition carries risks (sometimes severe) as well.
You just have to decide what you're comfortable with and take a stand.
Not to play devil's advocate here, but in my opinion, that's kind of like saying, "My babies had all of their 'routine' vaccinations, and they turned out fine." to prove the point that vaccinations must be safe. It's just faulty logic, IMO.

But I do fully agree that we all have to make choices based on how much risk we are willing to take. Sometimes the benefits of a medical procedure do outweight the risks. BUT that's the thing about ultrasounds....we don't KNOW the risks for sure because of the lack of conclusive studies....so I'd rather stay away from them as much as possible.

Sorry, this was sort of OT and probably not very helpful to the OP....but I just had to put in my 2 cents about using the "My kids had it and they turned out okay" argument.
post #20 of 20
I know this is kind of an old post, but I wanted to add that my friend has had bi-weekly ultrasounds with both of her pregnancies. She had them with her twins, who both stopped growing properly and one ended up stopping completely, so she had a cesarean at 30 weeks. They were both slightly bigger then the US had said, but they were still both very small for their gestation. They have been doing them with this one too (no clue as to why) and he is supposed to be tiny too. Concidering that her family history includes several 10+ pound babies, including her sister who just had her son two weeks ago, it seems kind of odd.
I also noticed that my ds, who had many ultrasounds during my pregnancy (for fun too, I didnt know better-I had at least a dozen) was smaller then my other babies. He was 2.5 weeks overdue (for sure, only had sex once!) and only weighed 8 lbs 5 oz, but my other two were 9 pounds 4 days before my due date and 7 lbs 9 oz 2 weeks early. Oh and my sister was only 7 pounds overdue after many ultrasounds as well...I was almost 9 pounds, so again, it seems odd. But its all anectodal, and they all seem fine. However, we have agreed to only have a short ultrasound to check baby's heart, check for spina bifida, and to check on the location of my placenta (I have had placenta previa scares before). No measurements or anything though and honestly, if I were having a hospital birth, I wouldnt even bother, but we live pretty far from the hospital so I want to help minimize any preventable risks
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