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Fetal Doppler- What are the dangers?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Talk to me about the fetal doppler. Why should I refuse the doppler and request a fetoscope instead and why? In reading other threads I’ve seen it mentioned but I’m not 100% on what the dangers are.

Thanks
post #2 of 13
I can't give you a lot of resources right this second, but in general, any danger that applies to regular visual ultrasound will apply to doppler ultrasound. You can search the internet for 'ultrasound dangers' or 'ultrasound risks' or 'ultrasound safety' and see for yourself what you believe There is definitely evidence against ultrasounds, but close to 4 million American women use them during their pregnancies each year (plus millions more world-wide).

For the record, my midwife (who has 26 years experience) usually uses a fetoscope. I was feeling a little anxious to hear the heartbeat at my last appointment since I had read a lot of miscarriage stories recently. I was 15 weeks and it was still to early to hear with the fetoscope. It turns out that my midwife does own a doppler, so she pulled it out and we listened just long enough to hear the heartbeat. It was on my abdomen for no more than 30 seconds. I am mostly anti-ultrasound, but obviously I approved it for that one use, and I may get a visual ultrasound during this pregnancy.
post #3 of 13
As far as I've been able to find, I have not seen any long-term, controlled studies about the effects of ultrasound on fetal tissues. Women get it or they don't as they see fit, but there has never been a study where one group got it and a similar group didn't, and there is no established safe level of ultrasound. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends AGAINST the routine use of ultrasound in pregnancy.

My personal feeling is thus: I will not be using a doppler to hear the baby's heartbeat before I go into labor (doppler is more constant sound waves while u/s imagery is intermittent). When I go into labor, doppler will only be used when the midwives in attendance want to get a heart rate and I don't feel like waiting for them to count. For ultrasound imagery, if there is a clinical indication to get one (fundal measurements are high or low, fetal movement has declined, blood work suggests a birth defect, etc) then I will get one after 20wks gestation. The tech will be admonished to get the information they need quickly and to limit unnecessary scanning. Students will not be allowed to practice on me.

Doppler and ultrasound are valuable tools, however they are used too frequently and unnecessarily during pregnancy to unknown benefit or detriment. Until there are more controlled studies following the effects of ultrasound on fetal tissue, I will not be an advocate for just getting one.
post #4 of 13
I had a UP up until the 7th month. At that point I began listening to the heartbeat at my midwife's office every month. I haven't seen any studies showing minimal u/s use is damaging, but serial, lengthy u/s use is not recommended. For me, I felt/feel comfortable using the doppler once a month for the 7th and 8th month and now that I'm basically due, we use it once a week. Basically, I've used it 5 times and I got talked into a visual u/s once.

I think moderation is key.

Kristi
post #5 of 13
According to Henci Goer's Obstetric Myths Vs Research Realities, 1 minute of doppler = 30 minutes of u/s. Large exposure to u/s has been linked to cell changes and IUGR. Here's some info from gentlebirth.

I plan to avoid doppler throughout this pregnancy.
post #6 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by genx77 View Post
Why should I refuse the doppler and request a fetoscope instead and why?
Thanks
Potential dangers aside, I just think listening with the fetoscope is a really sweet way to hear the baby. With a fetoscope you are hearing the actual heart sounds. With a doppler you are hearing a mechanical rendition of the heart beat based on high frequency sound waves.

I offer all my clients the fetoscope first. If they want to hear with a doppler, fine. I am not connvinced ultrasound has an ill effect, even a subtle effect. But we just don't know. We used to XRAY pregnant women all the time too.
post #7 of 13
i'm also planning on only consenting to a doppler during l&d. we've been using a fetoscope throughout, which my m/w is totally cool with. she only suggested doppler during labor because it's faster to get the HB, and i was seriously bothered last time in labor with the heart rate checks (nurse hand held the EFM to me, and it hurt! always sent me into an evil contraction). for the times when we want a HB during labor i want it over with *fast*
post #8 of 13
If 30 minutes of ultrasound is safer than 1 minute of Doppler, and I'm foregoing doppler sessions, would having an ultrasound potentially be that dangerous? It's only intermittent frequencies, not constant as with Doppler. I don't need one, but would like to know if I am having twins so that I can better prepare for my UC. And I think it would put the minds of our family members at ease, just get them off of my back. I just worry about the risks. Usually a diagnostic ultrasound is only 30 minutes. And I could always check the screen, make sure there's only one, and then be like "OH, I have to throw up." and suddenly feel sick and need to reschedule but just not come back...lol
post #9 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by aylaanne View Post
As far as I've been able to find, I have not seen any long-term, controlled studies about the effects of ultrasound on fetal tissues. Women get it or they don't as they see fit, but there has never been a study where one group got it and a similar group didn't, and there is no established safe level of ultrasound..
There are plenty of longterm studies dating back to the late 1970s and early 1980s that show that ultrasound is not innoucuous and should only be used if necessary. There are studies done out of Oxford University by Alice Stewart that shows that ultrasound should only be used if necessary as it is not something that does not have side-effects.

Over the years, whenever someone has ran off to get an ultrasound to see something as simple as what the sex of their baby is, (as if she would never know if she did not have that ultrasound scan), I have warned my friends that ultrasound does have effects on the baby's nervous system and I have always been laughed off.

So now I keep my big mouth shut and smile and wish my friends luck.

Someday, when it is too late, I will be proven correct. Remember that DES was prescribed for over thirty years without any scientific proof that it worked, yet the damage that it did could have been predicted from the knowledge that developed it.
post #10 of 13
My midwife has a, um, not sure if this is correct terminology, "long-necked" fetoscope, so I, my dh and friend all got to hear baby's heartbeat on Friday I am 37 weeks along, so that might make a difference, as it is harder to hear, then longer the neck piece.

We too plan to use doppler during l&d, as sparingly as possible though.
post #11 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by applejuice View Post
There are plenty of longterm studies dating back to the late 1970s and early 1980s that show that ultrasound is not innoucuous and should only be used if necessary. There are studies done out of Oxford University by Alice Stewart that shows that ultrasound should only be used if necessary as it is not something that does not have side-effects.
Can you point me to any of these sources? I know that there is a small body of evidence however I'm not certain about the quality of the research, and I'd like to examine it myself. Even just titles of articles would be helpful, since I've done an internet search and come up empty handed.
post #12 of 13
Thanks for the info. I used to think that a doppler was like an amplified fetascope, but now I know it's more like an audio ultrasound that uses sonar.
post #13 of 13
Just posted some links in the UC forum so I'll just x post them here as well. They are about ultrasounds, not just doppler but I hope they can answer some of your questions anyway. I like these articles. Haven't bought the midwifery today book on u/s but plan to when I get the cash. I know there are more articles out there but this is just what I have saved in my bookmarks.

http://www.midwiferytoday.com/articl...undrodgers.asp
http://www.midwiferytoday.com/articles/ultrasound.asp
http://www.midwiferytoday.com/articl...oundwagner.asp
http://www.unhinderedliving.com/pultra.html
http://educate-yourself.org/cn/2001/...e19dec01.shtml
http://www.compleatmother.com/ultrasound_danger.htm
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