How Safe Are Ultrasounds?
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?
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