Evidence that ultrasound is harmful? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 70 Old 09-16-2010, 04:37 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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?
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#2 of 70 Old 09-16-2010, 05:57 AM
 
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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.

i am personally a bit cautious, but not totally so. i have one short u/s around the 2nd tri to check placenta location and for any glaring anomalies (like anencephaly - i don't let them check the heart and i don't let them scan early enough to make measuring the nuchal fold viable).

everyone has to weigh benefits and risks and decide for themself.
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#3 of 70 Old 09-16-2010, 09:07 AM
 
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Ultrasound waves cause an increase in temperature, which can affect the baby's development. They also may cause cavitation (bubbles) within the tissues, though this is not definite. One study (Salveson K, Vatten L, Eik-Nes S, Hugdahl K, Bakketeig L. Routine ultrasonography in utero and subsequent handedness and neurological development. Br Med J 1993;307:159–64.) showed an increase in left-handedness, which is suggestive of neurological changes.

That said, I too get an ultraound once in the second trimester for the same reasons as the PP. I think the benefits outweigh the risks when used sparingly.

ETA: Also found this article from Midwifery Today outlining some of the main concerns.

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#4 of 70 Old 09-16-2010, 11:12 AM
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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.

i am personally a bit cautious, but not totally so. i have one short u/s around the 2nd tri to check placenta location and for any glaring anomalies (like anencephaly - i don't let them check the heart and i don't let them scan early enough to make measuring the nuchal fold viable).

everyone has to weigh benefits and risks and decide for themself.
I am interested to know why you don't want the heart checked. We didn't have a single ultrasound w/ my son, but i was thinking of seeing if we could just do a VERY quick one to check the heart. That was all I was interested in - seems placental location can correct as the pregnancy goes on. But is there a reason NOT to check the heart?
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#5 of 70 Old 09-16-2010, 11:39 AM
 
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I will not be getting any ultrasounds for any subsequent pregnancies unless something comes up that I feel needs attention. You hear a lot about babies kicking and moving a lot more when an ultrasound is going on which is one indication that it is loud/uncomfortable for them. I think there is a study going on right now where ultrasounds are used for male birth control, ie ultrasounds kill off sperm for an extended period of time. And just because something is the norm doesn't mean it is safe. Women were having there pelvis v-rayed and that was the healthy, safe, suggested thing you do. If you didn't you were being reckless and look what happened with that. Then there is the fact that repeated ultrasounds do not improve benefits for mother or baby and yet many doctors suggest getting one monthly or more. So I don't know the stat but I think there is a slight mortality improvement for mom and or baby with one ultrasound but nothing backs up getting more than that. I don't know ... I think no one really knows at least consciously whether you will be that one in I don't know 10,000 that will benefit from one or part of the vast majority where you and your baby will be perfectly fine and an ultrasounds only adds risks. I won't even be getting one because I believe in listening to my inner guidance and I worry they are not safe. Good luck!

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#6 of 70 Old 09-16-2010, 01:08 PM
 
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I agree that there are some risks but there are risks in everything. Unless you're Amish and live in a clean-air bubble on another planet you're going to be exposed to things that aren't perfectly safe no matter how hard you try. There's a huge difference though in getting one or two ultrasounds versus getting one at every appointment 'just because'. Chances are the extra ultrasounds aren't going to add any benefit.
I personally have had 3 ultrasounds. The first was for dating since my doctor wanted to confirm my charting (my LMP EDD would have been over a week off). The second was the anatomy ultrasound. It took a little longer than I liked but that's when we found out about my low lying placenta. He was going to do a repeat at 24 weeks but we delayed it to 28 weeks. That was a quick 2-3 minute transabdominal that showed the placenta is now clear of my cervix.

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#7 of 70 Old 09-16-2010, 02:32 PM
 
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For me it's less a matter of the studies that have been done so far than the feeling that it's not right for my baby. We're going to quit with the Doppler too (except during labor) because of the way the baby reacts to it, like he/she is trying to get away. It's a distinct feeling, different from any other movement I've felt this very active baby make! So I'm going to go ahead and listen to what my baby is saying to me rather than what standard medical practice is...

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#8 of 70 Old 09-16-2010, 04:57 PM
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#9 of 70 Old 09-16-2010, 05:08 PM
 
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What are the risks of electromagnetic fields on a fetus coming from a computer or any other electronic device?

I'm not sure those have been proven "safe" either.

I somehow always pictures pregnant women saying they don't get ultrasounds due to being risky sitting in bed with a laptop on their belly.

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#10 of 70 Old 09-16-2010, 05:15 PM
 
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Originally Posted by finnegansmom View Post
I somehow always pictures pregnant women saying they don't get ultrasounds due to being risky sitting in bed with a laptop on their belly.
Same here. Or to be the type to walk around with their cell phone in their pocket or purse next to their tummy... also not proven safe.

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#11 of 70 Old 09-16-2010, 05:24 PM
 
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Same here. Or to be the type to walk around with their cell phone in their pocket or purse next to their tummy... also not proven safe.
And even if you don't personally have a computer it doesn't mean your neighbors don't have them. Having a home-based wireless network is really common and most of us will pass through a couple hundred different networks just going around town doing our errands.

Then there's bluetooth...

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#12 of 70 Old 09-16-2010, 06:40 PM
 
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I guess it has the potential of being harmful in indirect ways too.

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

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#13 of 70 Old 09-16-2010, 07:32 PM
 
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I am interested to know why you don't want the heart checked. We didn't have a single ultrasound w/ my son, but i was thinking of seeing if we could just do a VERY quick one to check the heart. That was all I was interested in - seems placental location can correct as the pregnancy goes on. But is there a reason NOT to check the heart?
Well, i'm in the UK, and have my u/s with the NHS (i'm not even aware of private clinics which aren't just "for fun" places though i'm sure they exist if you have Bupa cover). You can't ask them to look at x real quick. You get different types of scan - dating scan (which you're supposed to get around 8 weeks and only offered if you have a reason to be unsure on dates), nuchal scan (12-14weeks, offered to everyone who opted for the triple test), anomaly scan (19-21 weeks, long, looks at every part of the baby - brain, heart, organs, limbs, etc.), growth/fluid scan (offered if you're overdue or they have reason to suspect baby isn't doing as well as s/he could). So if i want the heart examined i'd have to have the whole long anomaly scan - the scan which only identifies 25% of heart defects (as it says in the literature they give you at the hospital).

So basically, for me, it doesn't offer sufficient peace of mind for me to subject the baby to such a long scan for it. With DD1 i had one scan at 11+6 (was supposed to be 10days later but i was flying abroad, wanted to know there was a heartbeat, and was declining all testing anyway so inaccurate nuchal measurements didn't matter). with DD2 my gp requested a dating scan because i had a miscarriage right before i conceived, but due to the appointment procedures at the hospital i didn't get the scan until 15+1. too late to date, late enough to see anything glaring that might be wrong, late enough that i wasn't going to come back 4 weeks later and have a big long scan (especially as my baby seemed to hate both doppler and u/s wand and made listening/looking very hard by wriggling away the whole time) just to find out my baby MIGHT be perfectly healthy/ok.
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#14 of 70 Old 09-16-2010, 07:39 PM
 
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Sarah J Buckley has written a good, referenced article on ultrasound which you can find here http://www.sarahbuckley.com/articles/

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#15 of 70 Old 09-16-2010, 09:07 PM
 
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That was the one I was trying to think of! Great article.

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#16 of 70 Old 09-16-2010, 11:54 PM
 
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What I just kept reading is that ultrasound do not improve and may even diminish fetal outcomes so they just seem like "no point". Also, just by casually observing mamas in my DDC they seem to cause a lot of stress.

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#17 of 70 Old 09-17-2010, 12:22 AM
 
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Yeah, I feel like I have read a few studies that said ultrasounds in the first trimester double your chance of a mc. And to those talking about other risks such as cell phone and internet, just because you have those things doesn't mean cutting out something risky is pointless.

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#18 of 70 Old 09-17-2010, 12:27 AM
 
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I love the way you said this! I totally agree.

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Originally Posted by Tithonia View Post
For me it's less a matter of the studies that have been done so far than the feeling that it's not right for my baby. We're going to quit with the Doppler too (except during labor) because of the way the baby reacts to it, like he/she is trying to get away. It's a distinct feeling, different from any other movement I've felt this very active baby make! So I'm going to go ahead and listen to what my baby is saying to me rather than what standard medical practice is...

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#19 of 70 Old 09-17-2010, 01:55 AM
 
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Yeah, I feel like I have read a few studies that said ultrasounds in the first trimester double your chance of a mc. And to those talking about other risks such as cell phone and internet, just because you have those things doesn't mean cutting out something risky is pointless.
Huh. Since my risk with this pregnancy is 43% towards miscarrying, does that mean that my risk is now 86%? That sounds awful high. Do you have links to the studies? I would like to read up on that.

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#20 of 70 Old 09-17-2010, 05:21 AM
 
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I like to avoid as much intervention as possible... we opted against the doppler, I do not see the medical benefit of it nor do I like the discomfort (cold jelly, pushing on my belly). Good old fetoscope it is for me.
We opted against all but one ultrasound, as quick as possible, an organ scan and dh wil learn the gender then. Unless a specific medical isue arises, that will be it.
As for other sources - wireless networks and cell phone networks are not avoidable, nobody knows their effects just yet. But I personally never carry a cell close to mny abdomen nor put notebooks on my lap. Precaution. That stuff is very different from ultrasound, and it will be years before anyone will even consider studies to look at their safety. Anyways, I avoid as much as I can...
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#21 of 70 Old 09-17-2010, 07:54 AM
 
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Here are some links to threads that have links to studies. Most of these are studies that talk more about how US isn't generally beneficial and/or discussions on changing the recommendation for routine ultrasound. I, personally, have never read anything compelling that said they are proven unsafe. There is a Bradley video that shows cells changing after US but, honestly, it's like a million years old and super suspicious, IMO. Especially because I can't find it *anywhere* other than at this one Bradley class and it looks to me like two different types of cells. I was wanting to proove it a scam.

MDC thread from back in March:
http://www.mothering.com/discussions...043&highlight=

(This thread has links to a few good studies)


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

http://www.plus-size-pregnancy.org/P...%20Ultrasounds

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/bookshel...96&part=A14038

http://www.jultrasoundmed.org/cgi/content/full/21/7/713

I have not thoroughly read the last three links.

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#22 of 70 Old 09-17-2010, 08:08 AM
 
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Yeah, I feel like I have read a few studies that said ultrasounds in the first trimester double your chance of a mc.
I have never come across this. Can you share a link?

ETA: I did see this:

http://www.midwiferytoday.com/articles/ultrasound.asp

"It is ironic that women who have had previous miscarriages often have additional ultrasound examinations in order to "reassure" them that their baby is developing properly. Few are told of the risks of miscarriage or premature labour or birth..."

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#23 of 70 Old 09-17-2010, 08:15 AM
 
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Very interesting article!

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#24 of 70 Old 09-17-2010, 08:44 AM
 
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Yeah, I feel like I have read a few studies that said ultrasounds in the first trimester double your chance of a mc. And to those talking about other risks such as cell phone and internet, just because you have those things doesn't mean cutting out something risky is pointless.
The studies that have shown that women who get an early ultrasound do tend to have more miscarriages than those who go without do NOT take into account the fact that the majority of early ultrasounds are done to check viability of pregnancy because something seems off about the pregnancy or because the mother has an already increased risk of miscarriage. I am fully in the belief that 100% of the time those women would have miscarried anyway.

Studies on ultrasound use are inconclusive at best because they are just going over womens medical records, not looking at cause, just effect.

As such, women who get a lot of ultrasounds will likely show up with more medical problems. Not because the ultrasounds cause them, but because they were high risk for those problems or they showed up in other ways before the ultrasounds were even started.

Same with low birthweight. Women who get more ultrasounds tend to have premature births or low birthweight babies.... but that doesnt take into consideration the fact that a lot of those ultrasounds were likely towards the end, when they realized something was wrong, were checking the cervix for incompetent cervix or checking babies weight and development to see if baby was ready to be born.

As for the connection to autism... I do not know. But I do know plenty of women with autistic children who did not get ultrasounds so I believe that if there IS a connection between something we are doing now and autism, its not ultrasounds.

As for the sound bothering the baby, I will agree with that. My daughter dislikes it.

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#25 of 70 Old 09-17-2010, 08:44 AM
 
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What I just kept reading is that ultrasound do not improve and may even diminish fetal outcomes so they just seem like "no point". Also, just by casually observing mamas in my DDC they seem to cause a lot of stress.
I don't think that people get them because of fetal outcomes. But detecting problems before birth can save a baby's life, in extreme cases. I have a family friend whose DD had a fairly serious heart defect that was caught on u/s, and all of the necessary equipment to keep the baby's heart beating and the pediatric heart surgery team was waiting when she gave birth, to save the baby's life. While obviously these sorts of defects are rare, they do happen and I personally thought that the benefits of detecting and being prepared for any major problems outweighed any risks (and I do feel that there are probably some risks... but as others have pointed out I'm not sure they're any higher than sitting with a laptop on your lap or a cell phone in your pocket. And probably a lot less than going through airport security systems).

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#26 of 70 Old 09-17-2010, 09:03 AM
 
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Lach,

On the three Ultrasound discussions I've been on on MDC there have been mothers who believed a friend's baby's life was saved because they had an ultrasound. I certainly can not comment on those situations but will tell you that the research I have read indicates that ultrasound can diminish fetal outcome. Not necessarily because it caused the problem but perhaps because it led to interventions (c-section) that decreased the baby's chance of survival. The research I have read indicates that even in the absence of risk, ultrasound does not improve a child's chance of survival.

"Pregnant women often automatically assume that antenatal detection of serious problems in the baby means that lives will be saved or illness reduced. Knowing about the problem in advance did not benefit these babies; more of them died. They got delivered sooner, when they were smaller, a choice that could have long-term effects." http://www.midwiferytoday.com/articles/ultrasound.asp

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#27 of 70 Old 09-17-2010, 09:14 AM
 
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The studies that have shown that women who get an early ultrasound do tend to have more miscarriages than those who go without do NOT take into account the fact that the majority of early ultrasounds are done to check viability of pregnancy because something seems off about the pregnancy or because the mother has an already increased risk of miscarriage.
"A large randomised controlled trial from Helsinki (Saari-Kemppainen et al., 1990) randomly divided over 9,000 women into a group who were scanned at sixteen to twenty weeks compared with those who were not. It revealed twenty miscarriages after sixteen to twenty weeks in the screened group and none in the controls."

Maybe we can get a link to the actual study?

http://www.midwiferytoday.com/articles/ultrasound.asp

This looks like it:

http://www.thelancet.com/journals/la...941-3/abstract

I'll read it later. Reading studies is a great way for me to pass morning sickness...

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#28 of 70 Old 09-17-2010, 09:24 AM
 
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Directly from it -

Quote:
Perinatal mortality was significantly lower in the screened than in the control group (4·6/1000 vs 9·0/1000); this 49·2% reduction was mainly due to improved early detection of major malformations which led to induced abortion.

That pretty much says exactly the opposite of what you thought it did.

Control group had higher losses... and that is because the screened group had early detection for major problems and chose to end those pregnancies accordingly.

So this would, in effect, show that NOT getting an ultrasound could raise your risk of having a later term loss... however, its not really the case as whether you get the ultrasound or not, you are going to have that loss... just either by choice or by nature.

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#29 of 70 Old 09-17-2010, 10:15 AM
 
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That pretty much says exactly the opposite of what you thought it did.

I didn't think it said anything. Midwifery Today quoted the study in their article.

That link, however, is not the study...I didn't scan far down enough. I'll see if I can actually find the study. Certainly the abortion rate in the screened group is relevant and I would hope the study would break that down for us.

If I had to guess, I'd guess it was a large study and one of the "extra" findings is the stat that Midwifery Today was using. But, I don't know.

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#30 of 70 Old 09-17-2010, 10:28 AM
 
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Not the Helsinki study but interesting:

http://www.contentnejmorg.zuom.info/...ull/329/12/821

They do mention the Helsinki Trail, "In the Helsinki Ultrasound Trial,4 in contrast to our results, the perinatal mortality rate was lower in the ultrasound-screening group (4.6 vs. 9.0 per 1000, P<0.05) because of the detection of anomalies and the subsequent termination of the affected pregnancies. "

It seems to me that the Helsinki trial would be good to see...maybe it does discuss the issue of miscarriage (as suggested by Midwifery Today) but it seems like it was a fairly large study on the effects of infant mortality/morbidity that came to some different conclusions than other studies. It appears to have determined that prenatal ultrasound reduces infant mortality/morbidity.

Where the miscarriage thing comes in, I don't know...it would be cool if articles would link their sources, ha?? Can anyone access the Helsinki Trail?

The RADIUS trial is the other big one I'm thinking about.

Mama to DD September 2001 and DD April 2011 *Winner for most typos* eat.gif
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