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Risks/Benefits of early ultrasounds?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
I had my pregnancy confirmed at a pregnancy center that offers lots of services to expectant moms for free. They give ultrasounds, pregnancy testing, counseling, and other programs to help moms get supplies they need for their babies.

Anyway, they called me and asked if I could come in to be a model for an ultrasound training. I haven't called her back yet to talk with her about it, but I was just wondering what your opinions were about the risks and benefits of having an early ultrasound (I didn't have one with DS, so I don't even know what you can see). Also, at this point (6-7wks) would it be a vaginal u/s?
post #2 of 20
i don't see any benefits, and there are potential risks. routine ultrasounds are no longer recommended. a model for their training? are they paying you? i wouldn't do it even if they paid me, though.
post #3 of 20
At 6-7 weeks you should be able to detect the embryo, take a measurement,
and see the heartbeat. It is really up in the air whether they would be able to do this abdominally or need to do a vaginal u/s. In my case i didn't want to do a vaginal and my np wasn't sure if she would see anything externally but she did.

Some people are concerned about irritating the cervix and possibility of spotting/cramping with a vaginal u/s. I'm not sure if there are any studies documenting this or if it is just anecdotal.

Others would be better qualified than me to speak about u/s risks generally.

In my case, although I did decline the vaginal u/s, I was VERY anxious so it was a good compromise for me to consent to the abdominal for the peace of mind.
post #4 of 20
I'm getting one because I have had a lot of cramping and I'm scared I'm m/c. I had one with DS because I had m/c the first baby and they wanted to make sure that there was a heartbeat with this one. I dont think if I had these issues I'd get one but I am so I am
post #5 of 20
I would do it for medical reasons only. I'm not totally convinced that these sound waves that bounce off your baby's developing cells don't cause any problems at all. We will have one AFTER 20 weeks and that is it, unless there is a medical reason to have more.

I don't know how true this is but, I had a US tech. explain it to me that the sound to the baby would be silimar to a train going by your house. I know when I'm very close to a train I can feel it shaking me. I don't like the idea of it "shaking" the baby, if that makes any sense at all.

Anyhow, I think you have to decide what's best for you, what you feel comfortable with. You might want to cross-post in "I'm Pregnant" to get more people's opinions.
post #6 of 20
For medical reasons I could see getting it done, but not just for fun. I had 2 u/s with ds. One was at 14 weeks when we couldn't get the heart beat on doppler. After having a m/c I was freaking out and my midwife took me a couple doors down the hallway to where the ob she worked with had an us machine. Just a couple quick minutes relieved a ton of stress for me.
post #7 of 20
post #8 of 20
If you do an ultrasound between 11 and 13 weeks, 6 days, they can measure the nuchal fold (area at the back of the neck) and that can help detect certain abnormalities. You're way to early for that, though, and the u/s techs have to be specially trained for it.

Where you're at, you should see a heartbeat, and maybe some organs starting to develop. If you have anything weird going on (such as pain or bleeding) a u/s might show why. Early u/s can also be used to date a pregnancy when mom's cycles are funky and she's not sure how far along she is (later on, you can't tell nearly as well when baby was conceived, because all the organs are formed and size starts to differentiate based on genetic factors).

Personally, I'm unconvinced of the "risks." Although there have been some statistical changes in the public health over the past few decades, I have trouble figuring out how obesity rates or autoimmune disorders could be related to ultrasound (especially when there's a TON of factors that we KNOW influence those statistics). The increases in certain learning disabilities could conceivably be related to ultrasound, but there also seems to be a strong genetic component, so some people would be at risk while others would not, even if they made a link between routine ultrasound and increased rates of autism or ADHD. I think there are simpler explanations for those increases too, though (mostly a change in our environment and food supply).

But, by the same token, there's not a whole lot of benefit to an ultrasound at that point in your pregnancy. Furthermore, you're dealing with new techs, right? If they can't find your baby, you'll probably FREAK... but it may just be tech error. I'd be more inclined to do it if I was farther along, perhaps.
post #9 of 20
I would hesitate to allow myself and my baby to be the test subject for ultrasound training. I am very concerned about the risks of ultrasound, since I had a m/c after an early vaginal ultrasound saw a heartbeat. The risk of m/c at that stage is very low, and while I don't have any proof that the ultrasound had anything to do with the m/c, there is enough doubt in my mind to make me wait until the second trimester with this one.
post #10 of 20
Wow, there's no way I'd be a model for ultrasound training. Done wrong, you risk exposing your baby to waaay more stress and radiation than a professional would.

There is evidence that ultrasound has been linked to brain damage in babies as well as a host of other issues: http://educate-yourself.org/cn/2001/...e19dec01.shtml

http://www.midwiferytoday.com/articl...p?q=ultrasound

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/6948015.stm

The main concern, particularly early on, is that the waves cause "cavitation", or making little bubbles in the developing tissue. Remember that early on, the baby's cells are differentiating, becoming all the little organs and so on. So disrupting it at that stage is a bad idea unless its *needed*. There was a really good literature review that I read a while back (and can't find now ) that listed a whole host of (admittedly smaller) studies done, primarily with animals, that indicated higher incidents of birth defects, mental/learning issues and unexplained death during birth and in the neonate period. There were also problems with radiation exposure and actually heating the inside of the skull (they used a fetal lamb). Try searching "danger ultrasound" "cavitation" etc.

Early sonograms really don't do much other than see if there is a baby in there (can usually be determined by time or various blood tests), how many babies are in there (something a midwife can feel a little later on), and the dates (another thing a decent midwife can figure out fairly accurately). They are a diagnostic tool, they don't improve the outcome.

Later scans, i.e. the 2nd trimester anatomical, can give a lot more information, though they have high rates of false postives, creating a lot of stress. Since the cells are no longer differentiating, just growing, there's less of an issue with disruption. An inexperienced/poor sonographer may, however, expose the child to more radiation than necessary. So its worth finding out how many that individual does per year.
post #11 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Datura View Post
Wow, there's no way I'd be a model for ultrasound training. Done wrong, you risk exposing your baby to waaay more stress and radiation than a professional would.

There is evidence that ultrasound has been linked to brain damage in babies as well as a host of other issues: http://educate-yourself.org/cn/2001/...e19dec01.shtml
Wow... I get soooo touchy about articles that equate left-handedness with brain damage. Especially since there's TONS of study of brain differences in left and right-handed people, and while there are *differences*, there is no IQ disparity or issue of functionality.

How were the 7000 women who had scans in the 1970s selected? Were they a random sampling of the population, self-selected in some way, or selected because they were at some special risk? It seems unlikely they were a random sample, and therefore a selection bias could explain the left-handedness. For example, women who have a twin are twice as likely to have left-handed children. If many of these women got ultrasounds because twinning runs in their family, and they wanted to check for multiples, that right there could account for the increased preponderance of left-handedness among the scanned infants.

The increase in rates of left-handedness since the 1920s has a much simpler explanation: in the 1920s, it was still routine to teach left-handed children to write only with their right hand. My grandmother taught herself to write with her left hand as an adult, since she was only permitted to touch a pencil with her left hand in school. Some families were so embarrassed to have a left-handed child, they actually did their best to hide it. I'm not sure how researchers have determined that this can only account for 20% of the rise.... so, 80% of kids were allowed to be left-handed? Not hardly.
post #12 of 20
My understanding is that left handedness when there is no genetic reason for it is an indication of mild brain damage, and that is what is being cited.

Yup, very valid point on teaching right handedness. Everything is worth looking at critically.
post #13 of 20
The study equating left-handedness with brain damage is HIGHLY offensive and appalling. :
post #14 of 20
How is that offensive? The premise is that people who were not genetically meant to be left handed may become left handed if something occurs during gestation. Its not saying that there's something inherently wrong with being a leftie, just that there are some who weren't meant to be and are. Brains are like soft butter, most of us are running around with some degree of brain damage. I spent several days with very low O2 sats due to deep vein thrombosis and resulting pulmonary embolism, I'm about as damaged as they come in some ways.

If anyone has journal access, look up the "Literature review by the ISUOG Bioeffects and Safety Committee", I'm pretty sure that was the one I used for my research paper.

Please also note that I'm throwing this stuff out as a point of interest for others to consider, not as whole hearted belief in their premises. A lot of these are small studies which can affect the power and significance levels. Still, they raised enough questions that we've chosen to eschew all early ultrasounds and just get the 18 week anatomical scan.
post #15 of 20
Hi there.

I am 7 weeks pregnant and I have already had 2 us due to early bleeding. It was a vaginal us and it provided peace of mind that my baby is doing well, I had my last one done on Thursday. The baby's heartbeat was 126 bpm. I think it's a valuable when it's necessary and training is helpful. On my first us, a student perfromed it and she was barely in my vagina and she was useless. For the sake of mothers who need critical information done correctly, the opportunity to participate in the training would be great. U/S have been done for 30 years and there is no evidence of side effects. At 7 weeks all you can make out is a small mass, a flicker (hearbeat), and a yolk sac. All in all it's a marvel to look at.
post #16 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the replies. I'm still thinking about it. I should have clarified, from what I understand so far, it would be more of a DEMONSTRATION than a training for people to "try" on me. I'm thinking I might still be open to it if it is abdominal instead of vaginal, and if it will be relatively short.

We'll see. But thanks for the articles and the feedback!
post #17 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by JustJamie View Post
The study equating left-handedness with brain damage is HIGHLY offensive and appalling. :
This left handed lurker emphatically agrees!

I heard lefties were more likely to be highly intelligent, highly creative, and queer. No? :
post #18 of 20
I know nothing about being left handed...

On the topic of ultrasounds I have had 5 kids, and had at least 3-4 ultrasounds with each, sometimes more ( all for valid medical reasons) and theres no sign of it causing any problems with my kiddos.
Now stupid doctors jumping the gun on inducing as a result yes. Problems with kids, no. No autisim, not brain damage, no left handed kids. So I don't know about all those correlations. Would I get more than was medically needed, probally not. I tend to be very conservative in the heath department to, no vax, herbal treatment, etc.
post #19 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Datura View Post
How is that offensive? The premise is that people who were not genetically meant to be left handed may become left handed if something occurs during gestation.
Well, where I started getting my hackles up was when they said: "The team found that men whose mothers had scans were significantly more likely to be left-handed than normal, pointing to a higher rate of brain damage while in the womb." I was further disgruntled to read that "It is when the incidence of left-handedness begins to rise above these normal rates that scientists become concerned that brain damage of some kind could be a factor." (Gotta keep the left-handed numbers manageable... them southpaws will take over the WORLD if we're not careful! ;-)

Now... let's try a different physical characteristic: "The team found that men whose mothers had scans were significantly more likely to be green-eyed than normal, pointing to a higher rate of facial damage while in the womb." Are green eyes "damaged?" They're unusual, but really, isn't it a bit of a leap to say that this indicates damage?

If the ONLY thing they were able to detect that was different was the rate of left-handedness, that may indicate (and I pointed out why it may not, as well) that ultrasound scanning CHANGES the way the brain works... but it is not the same as brain DAMAGE. Brain damage, even subtle damage, can be detected in all kinds of ways: IQ tests, perception tests, cognitive tasks, yadda yadda yadda. And there is NO correlation between this kind of identifiable brain damage and left-handedness. I'm sure it would have been far too expensive to do that sort of testing on 177,000 men... but it would have made more sense than concluding that excessive lefties = brain damage.

I'm inclined to think that it was a flawed study, with a spurious correlation due to other factors (i.e. incidence of twinning in the family). But even if their data are solid, and ultrasound does cause a higher incidence of left-handedness, IMO that isn't a "risk." It's a side effect, perhaps. Actually, I'd tend to think of it as a benefit. ;-) But their whole attitude that there's something WRONG if more people are left-handed sits very wrongly with this third-generation leftie.
post #20 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by thismama View Post
I heard lefties were more likely to be highly intelligent, highly creative, and queer. No? :
Well, I hadn't heard of a correlation between left-handedness and sexual orientation.... but I don't suppose it would surprise me.

Maybe some researcher has found a correlation between ultrasounds and being gay... and has concluded that therefore ultrasounds cause brain damage! ;-) Would make about the same amount of sense...
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