Ultrasounds are bad??! - Mothering Forums
I'm Pregnant > Ultrasounds are bad??!
EchoSoul's Avatar EchoSoul 03:13 PM 02-22-2013

After all the research I did during my pregnancy, I never stumbled across ultrasounds being bad. But I come here, and I mean...it makes sense... can anyone explain this? I found a couple sites, um...Dr Feder and Dr Ben Kim, and plan on getting the book before my next pregnancy as suggested by the later site.. but I guess... do any of you have any stories you'd be willing to share?

 

I had the first routine u/s when the doctor confirmed I was pregnant.. Said the due date was March 17th. I fought, tooth and nail, with my OB, saying that I didn't believe the u/s was correct, and he was NOT going to arrive then. He pretty much said, "I'm sorry you feel that way, but this is my science, and I trust it." I had another u/s done(my idea) to try and achieve a different due date, not like it did much... the next one(this was mere weeks before I went into labor) said the due date was March 28th. I told him that one felt much better, but it didn't do anything, and he said the first was more accurate and after much pleading from the two of us, agreed to give us a 2 week waiver. Fortunately, just mere days before I was to come into the office and get induced, I went into labor. Apparently my fluids were just loaded with meconium. Days before I went into labor I had been leaking amniotic fluid, but I thought my bladder was weak and it was my urine, so I never called the doctor..

 

Our son, who had the perfect sounding heart beat on the doppler, perfect u/s readings, was born, cried, and his heart stopped. They restarted his heart, he was given a spinal tap and sent to the NICU for two days where he had a fever of unknown origin. My belief is he suffered a little baby heart attack from the stress of the labor/birth itself, and from soaking up my stress due to the obnoxious l&d staff. The infection could have been from the frequent cervical checks during labor.

 

How do you guys, who do not commit to u/s, weigh the pros and cons out?

 

Soooo confused.



LLQ1011's Avatar LLQ1011 11:33 PM 02-24-2013

It depends I guess. I thought I was against it but I ended up needing so so so many. Like 20. So I don't really know. My son had no issues at birth. He was a jaundice but otherwise is a chubby smart healthy 14 month old. I would also be curious to rea some sources.
 


katelove's Avatar katelove 11:51 PM 02-24-2013
I chose to limit ultrasounds with both my girls although I ended up having several with my second for a variety of reasons.

My thoughts are that they are a useful tool but overused. There is the potential for them to cause harm although no definitive evidence either way at this stage. The accuracy of findings is also quite variable.

When deciding whether to have an ultrasound or not I considered these questions:

Why is the USS being proposed?
How reliable is USS for this purpose?
Is there any other way to get this information?
What will we do with this information once we have it?

As an example we chose not to have first trimester ultrasounds with either pregnancy. I had certain dates, no history of miscarriage, no first trimester bleeding and we would not have terminated for Down's syndrome etc. If we had had any reason for concern, such as bleeding, then I probably would have had one.

We did choose to have 20 week morphology scans both times. One of the reasons is that we live in a regional city with no neonatal surgery. If a cardiac or other defect requiring surgery was identified (and knowing that there is not a 100% identification rate) then we would probably have chosen to give birth in a major centre rather than have to fly a sick newborn 6 hours to the closest children's hospital. As my first baby was born by c/s I also wanted to know where the placenta was as I was hoping for a VBAC the second time.

Sarah J Buckley has a good, referenced article on her website.
Ragana's Avatar Ragana 08:14 AM 02-25-2013

I had a fairly conventional pregnancy with my first, including several USs, but chose the homebirth midwife route with my second (still ended up having DD2 in the hospital). My midwife was not totally against having one US, but her nurse respectfully argued against it. We chose to have one US and one blood test and opted out of the rest of the tests. Both kids turned out healthy. For us, it was a comfort level with tests - the second time we were more confident and chose not to repeat some bad experiences we had with tests the first time around. It was a situational decision and not a feeling for or against ultrasounds in general, if that makes sense.

 

In my experience talking with many friends and family members, the thing that USs seem to be wildly off on is weight. I know many parents who were told their child would be huge based on the ultrasound (preparing them mentally for a c-section?), when their baby was much smaller, sometimes by a pound or more off from the prediction.

 

BTW, the ultrasound was wrong about my DD2's due date - she was born on her due date correctly predicted by our midwife (the date we had worked out with her based on the specifics of our pregnancy and had chosen to go with).
 


Ragana's Avatar Ragana 08:18 AM 02-25-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by katelove View Post


When deciding whether to have an ultrasound or not I considered these questions:


What will we do with this information once we have it?

This was very important in our decisionmaking as well.


LLQ1011's Avatar LLQ1011 08:21 AM 02-25-2013
Thats true. My first and second pregnancies ended in pprom and loss at 18 weeks my sons pregnancy was a complicated as it gets. I needed ultrasounds to monitor things you would not normally need. So for me it was needed. But for most probably not
dayiscoming2006's Avatar dayiscoming2006 01:57 PM 02-26-2013

I think it is good to have the 20 week anatomy scan to make sure baby is looking healthy in there and won't need help or anything. I've read somewhere that waiting til 24 weeks can be better for the scan since it will be a little more accurate, but I didn't have patience this time and all was good. I'm glad to know baby is well in there. I would limit them unless there was specific reason for it. I did have a first trimester scan this time, but I was dying to know if my baby was alive or not after an early miscarriage. Don't forget that doppler is much stronger than ultrasound. I think I read 1 minute of doppler is the equivalent a 35 min ultrasound.

 

I had ultrasounds with all my kids and they are healthy. I did doppler often with my first and he is fine. I limited doppler with my next two. And then this time I had doppler a few times, but I don't really want it anymore so I'm going to ask my midwife not to check with that anymore and see if she'll use a fetoscope if she really wants to hear the heartbeat. She does require me to use the doppler for labor. 


EchoSoul's Avatar EchoSoul 01:36 PM 02-27-2013

Thanks everyone, for your responses! Our doctor would not accept any other form of EDD calculation except by the ultrasound. Not the LMF(is that right?) calender, or even when we told him that the date of conception that would've had to taken place to achieve the EDD the ultrasound was saying...was not PHYSICALLY possible. He wouldn't take anything but the ultrasound.


dayiscoming2006's Avatar dayiscoming2006 02:33 PM 02-27-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by EchoSoul View Post

Thanks everyone, for your responses! Our doctor would not accept any other form of EDD calculation except by the ultrasound. Not the LMF(is that right?) calender, or even when we told him that the date of conception that would've had to taken place to achieve the EDD the ultrasound was saying...was not PHYSICALLY possible. He wouldn't take anything but the ultrasound.

 

I'd get a new doctor(or a midwife) then, if you knew when your first day of LMP(last menstrual period) was, that should have been enough. They should not require to have unnecessary scans. Most doctors seem to require the anatomy scan, but other than that.


EchoSoul's Avatar EchoSoul 03:44 PM 02-27-2013

LMP! That was it! He fiddled with that before the ultrasound to get the estimate. But once we had the ultrasound and it had its precious EDD, that was it for him. We loved him as a person. As a doctor, eh... He was great for the first visits, very funny, very amiable. But once we got into the more serious aspects of the check-ups(cervical checks, etc), that was when I started having misgivings. We definitely plan on finding someone else for the next time around.


Sol_y_Paz's Avatar Sol_y_Paz 06:19 PM 02-27-2013

You can find someone else whenever at any point you choose.


dayiscoming2006's Avatar dayiscoming2006 06:36 PM 02-27-2013

You have plenty of time to find a new provider if you are not satisfied with your current one.


eabbmom's Avatar eabbmom 06:39 PM 02-27-2013
US does not change outcomes: http://www.midwiferytoday.com/articles/prenatalultrasound.asp

US has also not been proven safe http://www.midwiferytoday.com/articles/ultrasound.asp

I had four with my first son and I regret it. He is healthy at 19 months but I am unsure if they may have had a lasting impact. With future pregnancies I will request use of fetascope instead of Doppler and if I feel like I want an ultrasound it will be once for ten minutes.
Calladona's Avatar Calladona 07:05 PM 02-27-2013

I choose to skip any ultrasounds before 20 weeks.  I will always get the 20 week for a number of reasons - mainly related to method of delivery.  With my oldest, not having the information from my 20 week ultrasound could potentially have cost her her life.  Or mine.  We found a number of things that shaped my treatment and ultimately the delivery.

 

I'm not 100% sure that ultrasound is completely safe, particularly early on.  Doppler as well, again, particularly early on when things are first developing.

 

Remember for dating - baby can be conceived up to a week after doing the deed.  This is why charting is so useful - you can pin down the exact date you ovulated/conceived and get a truly accurate EDD.

 

And those late ultrasounds for size are just bunk.  I do think that if you're looking to see growth, you can use ultrasounds to keep an eye and make sure baby is continuing to grow, but for a truly accurate size estimate - they just aren't there...  Late ultrasounds also often check amniotic fluid and the method of measurement on that can be pretty inaccurate as well.


EchoSoul's Avatar EchoSoul 10:47 AM 02-28-2013

    Quote:

Originally Posted by Calladona View Post

I choose to skip any ultrasounds before 20 weeks.  I will always get the 20 week for a number of reasons - mainly related to method of delivery.  With my oldest, not having the information from my 20 week ultrasound could potentially have cost her her life.  Or mine.  We found a number of things that shaped my treatment and ultimately the delivery.

 

I'm not 100% sure that ultrasound is completely safe, particularly early on.  Doppler as well, again, particularly early on when things are first developing.

 

Remember for dating - baby can be conceived up to a week after doing the deed.  This is why charting is so useful - you can pin down the exact date you ovulated/conceived and get a truly accurate EDD.

 

And those late ultrasounds for size are just bunk.  I do think that if you're looking to see growth, you can use ultrasounds to keep an eye and make sure baby is continuing to grow, but for a truly accurate size estimate - they just aren't there...  Late ultrasounds also often check amniotic fluid and the method of measurement on that can be pretty inaccurate as well.

That is why I began charting a couple months ago.. So in case any other provider argued with us(although I'm not planning on this ever being the case again..), I can have a better understanding of when my body ovulates, because at that time, I had NO idea, I didn't even track my menstrual cycles. They did check my amniotic fluid in the late ultrasound I had.. and found it was low. And said that was an indicator I'd be going into labor soon. I told them IF it was low, it was only because I hadn't been drinking as much water as I normally do. At that time our baby was also measuring around 6 lbs. Weeks later he was born 8 lbs 5 oz. I have no idea how quickly, or not, babies gain during the late stages of pregnancy, but I did know then that ultrasounds were totally useless when it came to predicting due dates and the weights of babies, I just kept my mouth shut about it. 

 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dayiscoming2006 View Post

You have plenty of time to find a new provider if you are not satisfied with your current one.

 

He's no longer our current one.. We ended that after my son's birth, lol.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by eabbmom View Post

US does not change outcomes: http://www.midwiferytoday.com/articles/prenatalultrasound.asp

US has also not been proven safe http://www.midwiferytoday.com/articles/ultrasound.asp

I had four with my first son and I regret it. He is healthy at 19 months but I am unsure if they may have had a lasting impact. With future pregnancies I will request use of fetascope instead of Doppler and if I feel like I want an ultrasound it will be once for ten minutes.

 

Been to that site... AWESOME articles. :)


MeepyCat's Avatar MeepyCat 12:18 PM 02-28-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by eabbmom View Post

US does not change outcomes: http://www.midwiferytoday.com/articles/prenatalultrasound.asp

US has also not been proven safe http://www.midwiferytoday.com/articles/ultrasound.asp

I had four with my first son and I regret it. He is healthy at 19 months but I am unsure if they may have had a lasting impact. With future pregnancies I will request use of fetascope instead of Doppler and if I feel like I want an ultrasound it will be once for ten minutes.

 

I went over and read the first article, which seems to me to be overly dismissive of ultrasound screening.  In my opinion, the author fails to meaningfully engage with the science (there are several places in the middle of the article where I would have appreciated a citation) or with opposing points of view.  Her second paragraph appears utterly irrelevant to her thesis, and strangely unmoored in history (yes, shaving and enemas were discarded as useless for women in labor... decades ago).  This paragraph in particular bugged me:

 

Quote:
Babies with very severe defects detectable by ultrasound usually have other defects as well, and survival rates are less than 50% even with early diagnosis and heroic costly prenatal interventions. For a good deal of money in the US, one can pay for surgery on the fetus during the pregnancy for the following findings, but there is also a 50% chance that the surgery will kill the fetus:
 
  • Spina bifida—occurrence: 1/1428 pregnancies
  • Absence of part or all of diaphragm—occurrence: 1/2200 pregnancies
  • Bladder obstructions—occurrence: 1/4500 pregnancies
  • Sacrococcygeal tumor—occurrence: 1/40,000 pregnancies
  • Twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome—occurrence: 5% of monochorionic twins

 

I don't think it helps those families who experience these issues to write them off by saying that their kids wouldn't survive anyway, and there's no point to diagnosis.

 

My first pregnancy was a walk in the park, but mid-pregnancy ultrasound in my last pregnancy diagnosed placenta previa, and made a major difference in how I responded to events in my pregnancy, ultimately leading to much better outcomes for me and my daughter then might otherwise have been possible. 

 

Which brings us, I guess, to the second article, which I'm sorry to say I don't care for either.  Unsurprisingly, I'm particularly displeased with that author's paragraph about placenta previa.  I did spend my last pregnancy worrying about hemorrhage and c-section.  Both of those things actually happened to me.  Fortunately, ultrasound had indicated certain risk management measures in my pregnancy, which meant that the hemorrhage didn't happen until well after the point that my daughter had a good prognosis for NICU treatment (I jogged throughout my first pregnancy, and I shudder to think what would have happened if I'd done that with my last).  Also, because we knew that hemorrhage and c-section were a possibility, we were reasonably prepared.  It was stressful, yes, but ultimately, it was knowledge of my condition that helped us achieve a good outcome, and the stress of knowing that bad things could happen was not a factor.

 

The author of this second article has a very poor understanding of statistics, and consequently misinterprets some of the results under discussion.  She's also very dismissive of parental choice.


eabbmom's Avatar eabbmom 12:27 PM 02-28-2013
To each their own.
Nazsmum's Avatar Nazsmum 12:49 PM 02-28-2013

My 3rd was "late" and the midwife WANTED an US...long story short. (1) baby was born under the weight the US said (2) baby born on the date I thought would be the date (3) midwife made me go for the US even after I told her insurance would NOT PAY!!! irked.gif I paid $$$$ out of pocket

 

I forgot to say...she made me go for a "DATE" which I did not want to begin with. One midwife told my one date and the other said "No way that could be right" headscratch.gif So she told me to stay with them I would have to go...well looking back I should have just left. Oh well. Live and learn.


CountryMommy's Avatar CountryMommy 03:27 PM 02-28-2013

I have never had any early pregnancy ultrasounds but I always do the anatomy scan. I like to know where my placenta is, how the umbilical cord is inserted and if baby appears to be developing normally. Some things shown on the ultrasound can change how labour and delivery should proceed and if baby might need additional care after the birth.

 I personally wouldn't do any additional non diagnostic ultrasounds (for gender prediction, etc) but I would follow up with more medical ultrasounds if indicated, ei) vaginal bleeding, baby movement slowed down, etc. Also, I am not convinced that ultrasound is 100% safe but for me, doing at least the anatomy scan is a necessary calculated risk to learn potentially important information about the well being of my baby so I do it.


Sphinxy's Avatar Sphinxy 05:42 PM 02-28-2013
Can someone tell me what the Doppler is? I'm unfamiliar with this procedure.

I was surprised at my first ultrasound this week. When I got in the exam room she told me it was done vaginally. I was expecting the ole "squeeze the jelly on your belly" thing that they show on tv.
cynthiamoon's Avatar cynthiamoon 05:56 PM 02-28-2013

Sphinxy-- they use vaginal U/S until the baby is high enough over the pubic bone to see it through the belly. Early on, they are too tiny and too low to be seen from that far away. Not sure what the cut-off date is though. A Doppler is another type of ultrasound machine, but not usually refered to that way so as to prevent confusion. It bounces sound off of blood cells to determine blood flow. It's used prenatally mainly to detect heartbeat. 


Sphinxy's Avatar Sphinxy 05:58 PM 02-28-2013
Thanks, Cynthia!
A2JC4life's Avatar A2JC4life 11:01 AM 03-08-2013

I've never heard of an U/S causing heart problems.  But there is some evidence that the increased use of U/S (which includes Doppler) may be linked to the increase in autism.  I agree with this:

Quote:
Originally Posted by katelove View Post

My thoughts are that they are a useful tool but overused. There is the potential for them to cause harm although no definitive evidence either way at this stage. The accuracy of findings is also quite variable.

When deciding whether to have an ultrasound or not I considered these questions:

Why is the USS being proposed?
How reliable is USS for this purpose?
Is there any other way to get this information?
What will we do with this information once we have it?
 

 

IMO, those are excellent questions to ask when deciding on the use of ANY test/evaluation/etc. (or even when deciding - for general purposes, I mean, not for birthing - whether to go to the doctor/hospital).


Jackeke's Avatar Jackeke 12:16 PM 03-08-2013

Very sound advice Kate...I always try to limit x rays and anything so unnatural.

I know when I have a child I would want some ultrasounds just to know theyre okay, boy vs girl etc. But my friend had one every single week...I thought it was overkill.


myra1's Avatar myra1 02:00 PM 03-08-2013
With my first, the ob insisted on ultrasound since I was declining so many other interventions, and I agreed as a compromise, thinking it was relatively benign. I had a 20 week scan which resulted in a diagnosis of placenta previa, cysts on the brain which could indicate mental disabilities, and moving my due date up by 2 weeks. The tech was unsure about the pp and I had an additional vaginal ultrasound, which I didnt want since I have read it results in higher exposure for baby. I was sure I was not that far along, and moving my edd so much resulted in heavy pressure to induce at the end. Turns out baby was just big. And needless to say, I was very sad for four months thinking baby could be disabled and would need to be a cs due to pp.

Everything turned out fine...went 4 weeks past scan due date, 2 weeks past my own edd; no brain problems, and pp resolved before labor, as it often does. (Of course it required another late pregnancy scan to determine this...) So the 20 wk scan did nothing beneficial and caused me lots of stress. After that I vowed no more routine ultrasounds. I think they have their place when there are questions or concerns, but for a normal pregnancy they absolutely cause more misleading results and the good old intervention cascade then they do good. For example, if I still had pp close to delivery I would likely have had bleeding, at which point us would truly be indicated. Would not have aborted disabled fetus at 20 weeks anyway, and the diagnosis turned out wrong! The edd being koved up was ridiculous since I was confident about dates and weight is notoriously inaccurate via us at that point.

The routine use of us in this country is probably bc is easy, profitable, and percieved as benign. I believe it is way overused! All interventions should be only as indicated. I feel that the fact that most obs present them as a must instead of an option and that insurance companies pay for them with no reason given is a disservice to women. I do admit on later pregnancies I was so dying to know the gender I was tempted smile.gif but very glad that we stuck w no scans. I do believe with my last the scan would have given false dates again and the pressure to induce would have been intense.
somegirl99's Avatar somegirl99 09:17 PM 03-08-2013

A mama in my previous DDC had her baby's major omphacele diagnosed during the anatomy scan.  Had she been unaware and proceeded with a vaginal birth, it would have been fatal for her baby.  Maybe the scan is unnecessary the majority of the time but it can make a huge difference to some babies.
 


1love4ever's Avatar 1love4ever 11:29 PM 03-08-2013

I havent read everyone's posts, but wanted to say that having an ultrasound, or multiple, have not been shown to improve birth outcome.  If there is a reason to have an US, a legitimate concern, I would have one, but an ultrasound rarely gives any truely meaningful info.  If a birth defect is found, it cant be dealt with til after birth anyway.  I've read that results of US's are often uncertain and false positives show up and moms are told their baby may have a certain condition, and all it causes is the mom to have lots of stress in her pregnancy, but no useful info was obtained.  The reason why doc's started ordering US's for every pregnant woman was a combo of consumer demand- every woman wanting one, and for liability reasons.  If something went wrong with the pregnancy or birth, the doc wanted to be able to say they covered every base and took every precaution, to avoid lawsuits.  Much the same reasons for many birth pratices today such as the electronic fetal monitor. 

ALso, the long term effects of having an ultrasound or multiple are not known.  There have been no studies proving their safety.  No one knows if it increases risk of cancer, or hearing loss, etc, especially at an older age.  No studies have been done, and I doubt any will be done, because what would modern maternity care do if they all of a sudden denied every woman her US unless there was some sort of actual concern?  Women would be pissed!! 

I've also heard stuff about the sound waves disrupting the amniotic fluid, and the electromagnetic field interfering with development and causing DNA to break and mutate and stuff.  I dont even remember where I read about that.  But, above all, to me, it is just entirely unnatural, and I believe that the less technology that is involved in a pregnancy and birth, the better and healthier!  :) 

Needless to say I turn down the dopplar and ultrasound :)   I had them with my last 2 babies (well the US with my last, I still refused the dopplar), but this was before I knew much about it.  My US's just costed me a bunch of money, and the only useful thing they told us was the sex.  The estimated due date was way off on both.   I've had friends who've been wrongly diagnosed with their baby having a cleft palate, missing organs, severely underweight/malnourished, placenta previa, a missing skull, Downs syndrom (the U/S tech actually told her her baby had Downs from looking at the monitor and was going to be disabled, which I dont think the tech's are even supposed to do!) and a 2 vessel cord.  So they all ended up being extremely stressed and having lots of additional ultrasounds and nonstress tests, blood tests and amnio's done to try to determine the health of the baby.  Some went to specialists in different cities, etc, for NO REASON, just because the U/S was wrong.  And of course they can be wrong about the sex of baby too :)  I also had a friend who was correctly diagnosed with a 2 vessel cord and she freaked out about it for the rest of her pregnancy, had about 20 additional ultrasounds and a ton of tests done because of it, was a stressed out wreck the whole rest of the pregnancy, and ended up with a healthy perfectly normal baby who's now 1 and ahead in every area of development!


gardenmommy's Avatar gardenmommy 03:15 PM 03-12-2013

I am pregnant with #6.  I think PP have listed some very good questions to ask before consenting to routine US.  US can be a very helpful tool, but I don't think it should be routine for every pregnancy.  I had 2 with #1, as I went a very mainstream route with OB and hospital birth.  With #2, I had one very early US, as I thought I was having a miscarriage.  After several days of spotting/bleeding my MW thought an US would help determine if there was anything retained.  As it turned out, it was random spotting/bleeding, and DD1 was perfectly fine, her little heart was beating away happily.  I have not had any US with the rest of my babies.  

 

I do not think US is the ONE cause of anything major damage to unborn babies, but in a world where there are so many toxins and pollutants, it seems prudent to limit exposure where we can.  If it isn't necessary, the wise course seems to be to skip it, especially since for most mothers, outcomes are not improved.  Again, like PP, I think if you really must have one, I think it should be the later one, and for diagnostic purposes only.


A2JC4life's Avatar A2JC4life 12:41 PM 03-13-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by gardenmommy View Post
I do not think US is the ONE cause of anything major damage to unborn babies, but in a world where there are so many toxins and pollutants, it seems prudent to limit exposure where we can.  If it isn't necessary, the wise course seems to be to skip it, especially since for most mothers, outcomes are not improved. 

 

I agree.


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