How Safe Are Ultrasounds?

ultrasounds safe?

With each of my three pregnancies, I was a nervous wreck before my ultrasounds. Yes, I couldn’t wait to catch that first glimpse of my little one inside me and yes, I looked forward to that moment when pregnancy would seem “real,” but I was also incredibly nervous for the health and safety of my baby.

What if something was wrong? Would the tech tell me? What would I do? Would this joyous moment turn into something we would never forget?

In all of my nervous worrying however, there is one thing that never really crossed my mind about ultrasound – their safety. 

It wasn’t until after my third baby, enjoying many ultrasounds courtesy of the labor and delivery floor where I worked as a nurse, when I read an article that discussed the potential health risks of ultrasounds. Horrified, I did a little digging about the safety of that first picture of your bouncing bundle of joy.

The official statement by the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine reads, “The AIUM advocates the responsible use of diagnostic ultrasound and strongly discourages the non-medical use of ultrasound for entertainment purposes. The use of ultrasound without a medical indication to view the fetus, obtain images of the fetus, or determine the fetal gender is inappropriate and contrary to responsible medical practice. Ultrasound should be used by qualified health professionals to provide medical benefit to the patient.”

So does that mean your one ultrasound during pregnancy is not recommended? Probably not. The AIUM goes on to state, “Based on the epidemiologic data available and on current knowledge of interactive mechanisms, there is insufficient justification to warrant conclusion of a causal relationship between diagnostic ultrasound and recognized adverse effects in humans.”

The mid-pregnancy ultrasound, usually performed between 16 and 20 weeks, is an important diagnostic tool that can uncover problems with your baby early enough to treat them.

The concern over ultrasound testing arises when unnecessary testing is ordered or pregnant women are getting ultrasounds done in un-licensed clinics or for non-medical reasons, like the “ultrasound booths” popping up in places like the mall.

The medical community recommends that pregnant women avoid ultrasounds that are not ordered by their care providers and if you are experiencing a high-risk pregnancy that warrants the use of multiple ultrasounds, be sure to speak to your care provider about your concerns regarding any harmful effects of repeated ultrasounds exposure.

Would you get an ultrasound from someone who wasn’t a licensed medical professional?

Photo credit: Flickr

What do you think?

How Safe Are Ultrasounds?

Chaunie Brusie is a writer, mom of four, and founder of The Stay Strong Mom, a community + gift box service for moms after loss. ... More

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15 comments

  1. Julie B says:

    I’m high risk with being diabetic, so I get ultrasounds once a month. I know they need to do it to make sure the baby is growing correctly and that I.don’t run into any complications. It’s a necessity and I was not worried about the problems of what the ultrasound can do to me or my unborn baby. I think the pro outweigh the cons for me.

  2. Alison says:

    I had two ultrasounds before I was eight weeks pregnant, and then needed three more during my fifth and sixth months. The first two were because we thought I was farther along than I was, and the doctors were worried that my baby wasn’t developing properly. It turned out I was just not very far along. The third one was routine, but the next two were due to the fact that she refused to show her face or profile. Since she had a shadow on her heart, they wanted to be sure to rule out any other markers, such as a soft spot on her nose. Turned out that she was just being a little drama queen, and she didn’t want anyone to see her face. I loved being able to see her so many times, and the difference that two weeks of development makes is incredible. Going every two weeks for a month and a half was awesome. If they hadn’t been needed though, I definitely wouldn’t have gone for all the extras.

  3. KaelinRae says:

    I would not go to someone who was unlicensed. As nice as it is to see my baby in the womb, I want to do what is best for my child.

  4. TraciCupp says:

    yes they are safe! if youre so scared DONT HAVE KIDS! geez people

  5. Marina says:

    Unfortunately because of my age that puts me as high risk OB patient. I already had 4 up to date (6 1/2 months pregnant) with my OB & at the Perinatologist. I possibly will need few more before I deliver. The pictures of my baby are nice but, still worry about exposure to ultrasound. People need to research exactly how ultrasound works. Getting ultrasound by unlicensed personnel for entertainment purposes it is not a good idea.

  6. Thats crazy to think that people actually go to un licensed docters for ultra sounds yeah its nice to see your baby unborn but wait for the actual days you go in u only have to wait 9 months or 10 to see you bundle of joy

  7. Aimee says:

    I go by what my doctor says.

  8. lezayala says:

    I would dot it just when my ob direct me to do it……!

  9. verochka31 says:

    I only trust the tech at my OB’s office to do my ultrasound……………and noone else. besides my office does the one mid-pregnancy ulrasound and maybe one at the end, only if needed.

  10. PrettyBoogs says:

    An ultrasound booth? Sounds creepy..

  11. Grace says:

    no, i would not. ultrasounds are shooting high density/very loud sound into your stomach to see the baby- i say they are unsafe. all of my doctors had me have them done– i felt extreme pressure from my spouse and the doctors -each time i had anxiety and hated it…

    • Rachel says:

      You need to educate yourself. And by that I do not mean read articles on the Internet from someone who doesn’t have a background in imaging or with an MD after their name. Ultrasound is not “shooting very loud sound into your stomach”. It is the same for people that are paranoid about having an X-ray because of the radiation and not realizing that natural radiation occurs outside everyday… Or the fact that a higher dose is accumulated by taking an airplane flight than getting a routine X-ray. I wouldn’t tell a
      Mechanic how to fix my car, and people without a medical background shouldn’t tell those that are trained how to do their jobs either.

  12. lori says:

    So the question still remains….Are ultrasounds safe? I am due for a second ultrasound, and I understand why they’re done. Is it safe to get them done , especially when its more than once?

    • Rachel says:

      Completely safe. Even if all the facts were stated, the point is that if they weren’t safe, your doctor would not do them. People need to start trusting their medical professionals instead of “researching” on the Internet and making their own unfounded judgments.

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