Evidence that ultrasound is harmful? - Page 3 - Mothering Forums

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#61 of 70 Old 09-21-2010, 11:31 AM - Thread Starter
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@IdentityCrisisMama, thanks for your input--you make some good points. I will have a look at the RADIUS study. That is exactly what I was looking for when I posted this question: actual studies.
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#62 of 70 Old 09-21-2010, 03:26 PM
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FFL, thanks for saying that. I actually realized today that I can access a few more medical databases through a Uni here and would be happy to post more links if you like. It also looks like I can get quite a few abstracts of *very* relevant articles but not the entire study (without physically going to the library). I'll post a bunch later today.

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#63 of 70 Old 09-21-2010, 04:08 PM
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Ethical Analysis of Non-Medical Fetal Ultrasound

"After considering and applying four major theories of ethics, a reasonable conclusion
can be drawn that obstetric ultrasound practice is ethically justifiable if, and only if,
its indication is based on medical reasoning. Non-medical fetal ultrasound can be con-
sidered ethically unjustifiable." (possibly available on-line and I can PM if anyone would like)


Abstract of a study not available:

The safety of obstetrical ultrasound: a review.
Houston LE,Odibo AO,Macones GA
Prenatal Diagnosis
Publication Type:
Academic Journal
Ultrasound is a commonly employed imaging modality in obstetrics and is generally regarded as safe to the fetus. Current ultrasound technology, however, has significantly higher output potential than older machines used in most clinical studies, and the safety profile for the increasing use of Doppler, 3-dimensional (D) and 4-D ultrasound with modern machines is unknown. This article reviews the current status of ultrasound safety within obstetrics, including proposed mechanisms of harm, existing scientific and clinical evidence regarding those mechanisms, and considerations of safety for the clinical user.


"A questionnaire
was distributed to 145 doctors, 22 sonographers and
32 midwives from nine European countries. All of them
were using diagnostic ultrasound on a daily or weekly
basis. The results of this study were depressing. About
one third knew the meaning of MI and TI, and only 28%
knew where to find the safety indices on the screen of
their own machine. More alarmingly, only 43 (22%) of
199 respondents knew how to adjust the energy output
on their machine 3."



"Miscarriage, stillbirth
and neonatal deaths
A large randomized study by Saari-Kemppainen
and colleagues (1990) randomly divided over
9 000 women into two groups which did or
did not have routine early ultrasound scans.
There were 20 miscarriages after 16 to 20
weeks in the screened group and none in the


(I can PM the article)


Guidelines and recommendations for safe use of Doppler ultrasound in perinatal applications.
Barnett SB; Maulik D
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Lindfield, Australia
Journal of Maternal-Fetal Medicine (J MATERN FETAL MED), 2001 Apr; 10(2): 75-84 (36 ref)

"Standard recently adopted by the FDA, in the USA, encourages self-regulation of acoustic exposure by the ultrasound user, on the basis of assumed knowledge of the implications of biophysical interactions. When modern sophisticated equipment is used at maximum operating settings for Doppler examinations, the acoustic outputs are sufficient to produce obvious biological effects, e.g. significant temperature increase in tissue or visible motion of particles due to radiation pressure streaming effects. The risk of inducing thermal effects is greater in the second and third trimesters, when fetal bone is intercepted by the ultrasound beam and significant temperature increase can occur in the fetal brain. Non-thermal bioeffects may be more significant in early gestation, when the relatively loosely tethered embryonic tissues are exposed to an ultrasound beam in a liquid path."


I like this article:

"It is likely that a routine ultrasound scan will be suggested fairly early in your pregnancy. This presents a perfect opportunity to ask a few questions" "What is the chance the scan will make things worse? Is such a scan safe?" If the answer is a flat "Yes, ultrasound scanning during pregnancy is safe," alarm bells should start going off in your head, because you are not getting the full information. You must then ask, "Show me the data on the safety of prenatal ultrasound," in order to check on what you may be told about the data on the safety of prenatal ultrasound. As a scientist I can assure you that the only correct answer to your question is, "We don't know because there is not sufficient scientific data to prove the safety of prenatal ultrasound."


The next question to ask when ultrasound scanning is proposed to you is, "What is the chance that a scan will make things better?" When you are told that one reason for the scan is to look for defects in the fetus, ask: "What is the chance a defect will be correctly identified (true positive screening test) and what is the chance a defect will be incorrectly identified (false positive screening test)?" If your provider cannot, or will not, answer this question, watch out!


Your next question when ultrasound is suggested should be, "Is there a better chance my baby will survive the pregnancy and birth if an ultrasound scan is done, and what are the data?" The correct answer is that a large study in the United States of more than 15,000 regnant women showed no improvement in the mortality rate of the babies if ultrasound is routinely used during pregnancy."



"When the detection of fetal abnormality is a specific aim, the
number of planned terminations of pregnancy increases. In the
trial in which this policy was pursued with greatest commitment
(Helsinki), this resulted in fewer perinatal deaths. Overall, how-
ever, no clear benefit in terms of a substantive outcome measure
like perinatal mortality can yet be discerned to result from the
routine use of ultrasound."



A good general article from the "anti-ultrasound camp":



A whole collection of links (I have not looked at):


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#64 of 70 Old 10-16-2010, 10:36 AM
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I read that the most harmful time for ultrasound is at the end of the pregnancy when the neurological connections in the brain are being formed as they are something that the waves have a huge effect on. Dont ask me where I read it though

I didnt have one at all with DS, but did with DD. Her behaviour during the ultrasound is enough to convince me that they are harmful. As well as the burning feeling I had on my belly when it was being done. She squirmed and writhed her little body in desperation to get away from that thing. It was all just so wrong. I still feel guilty about it.

I would only get one again if there was some medically pressing reason that would make the danger of it a worthwhile risk.
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#65 of 70 Old 10-16-2010, 12:57 PM
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I agree with the other posters about the ultrasound not showing very many "risks" but that it's not studied well and it's not necessarily proven "safe" either. It's just like anything else in life. You have to decide for yourself if the benefits at that point outweigh the risks. My midwives like to do one ultrasound at 20 weeks to make sure everything looks good, anatomy check, etc, but that's it unless there is another good reason to check again. I went in yesterday to hear the heartbeat and my midwife couldn't find it, and suggested I do an ultrasound if I was going to go home and worry. I am a big worrier, and my sister had a D&C last year after not hearing the heartbeat at 10 weeks. She had never had a miscarriage before and wasn't that worried about it, and waited two weeks to go back and check for the heartbeat again. After not finding the heartbeat that time, she went in for an ultrasound. Turns out the baby had died at 8 weeks and her body just wasn't willing to let it go. I couldn't put myself through that wondering if the baby was okay for weeks, so I did the ultrasound for my own self assurance. In that case, I feel the benefits outweighed the risks, and I feel good about my decision, because stress and worry isn't good for the baby either

DH(9/04) DS(12/08) and DD(5/11)

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#66 of 70 Old 10-19-2010, 01:59 PM - Thread Starter
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@IdentityCrisisMama, thanks for the great articles!
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#67 of 70 Old 10-19-2010, 03:46 PM
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Originally Posted by IdentityCrisisMama View Post
I wanted to ask how many of us have read the RADIUS study and if anyone has been able to find the Helsinki study?
I have the full text of the Lancet article on the Helsinki study. As mentioned by a previous poster, it found perinatal mortality halved in the scan group for both singletons (4.2 per 1000 scanned vs 8.0 per 1000 ctrl) and twins (4.2/1000 scanned vs 8.4/1000 ctrl).

Me, DH, DD1 (5/2009) and DD2 (10/2011).
I'm not crunchy. I'm evidence-based.

Vaccines save lives.

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#68 of 70 Old 10-19-2010, 09:39 PM
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I don't know if anyone has referenced this article, which is a meta-analysis of a number of studies looking at adverse maternal or perinatal outcome, growth and neurological development in infancy, school performance, behavior scores, childhood cancers, etc. No correlation to ultrasound exposure was found except for a weak relationship between ultrasound and left-handedness in boys.


Safety of ultrasonography in pregnancy: WHO systematic review of the literature and meta-analysis

Authors: Torloni, M. R.; Vedmedovska, N.; Merialdi, M.; Betrán, A. P.; Allen, T.; González, R.; Platt, L. D.

Source: Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology, Volume 33, Number 5, May 2009 , pp. 599-608(10)

Mama to F (3/09) and S (3/11); and never forgetting my babe gone too soon angel1.gif(4/10).

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#69 of 70 Old 10-20-2010, 05:36 PM
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Originally Posted by GoBecGo View Post
the question is what evidence is there that ultrasound is SAFE for your baby? there have been no good, long-term studies to see what effects ultrasound has and so if you have one you are effectively doing so "blind". some would say that they have been using u/s for some decades and are yet to see any negative effects, others would say that they aren't looking for negative effects and any number of "modern" problems could be due to u/s.
Exactly. I also know that there have been a number of studies (I don't know where off the top of my head but I'll go look) that showed there weren't better outcomes with routine ultrasound, so I don't feel it's worth it. We know that the procedure heats up the baby - how safe is that? We just don't know yet. It's been shown to be particularly dangerous in the first trimester and linked with miscarriage, and that's sad because that's when most people receive their first ultrasound (to date the pregnancy). I just think that if there isn't a reason to assume your pregnancy is abnormal, it isn't worth the possible unknown risks. Also, I was told from an ultrasound technician that something looked abnormal, but he couldn't tell me what it was and wouldn't explain anything until another ultrasound 2 weeks later, which showed everything to be fine. I did not need to worry for those 2 weeks! It was completely unnecessary.

The FDA also says that it shouldn't be used routinely for "fun" or gender prediction. It's not cleared for that, but how much money are those 3D companies making? And some doctors are giving ultrasounds at every single appointment.
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#70 of 70 Old 10-20-2010, 06:08 PM
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Originally Posted by foreignerforlife View Post
I've run into several threads on here where people say they won't do ultrasounds. But I've googled this topic and not found any evidence that ultrasound is harmful (in fact, the studies I've found have shown no effects). Can those of you who know more about this please fill me in? What evidence is there that ultrasound is harmful to my baby?
It has been looked at by multiple medical panels, and the consensus is that there is no evidence that ultrasounds are harmful, and that they seem to be safe. As a precaution (due to the unknown, since there is always the unknown), medical consensus is to limit ultrasounds to only those needed. Thus, most physicians advocate against keepsake 3-D ultrasounds purchased for non-medical reasons.
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