Study: Ultrasounds Harm Developing Brain?

By: Lindsay Puccio
By: Lindsay Puccio

August 11, 2006

Nowadays it is becoming "hip" for pregnant women to go to ultrasound "boutiques" just to get a glimpse of the little one. However, a new study finds that ultrasound exams for entertainment are potentially dangerous.

"All women undergo one ultrasound during pregnancy to confirm their dates and rule out potentially serious problems with the pregnancy," said Dr. Christian Chisholm, associate professor of maternal-fetal medicine at the University of Virginia.

However, recently it's become more of a fashion statement to have pictures of the baby on the wall. A new Yale study may prove it to be harmful.

In the study, the mice fetuses that were exposed to the ultrasound machine for 30 minutes failed to grow brain cells properly. In humans, effects like theses are known to lead to disorders such as mental retardation, dyslexia, and even schizophrenia.

"When we recommend an ultrasound for a clear medical indication, the benefits outweigh potential risks," said Dr. Chisholm.

The study is leading medical experts to question the potential health effects that ultrasounds might have on human fetuses. Dr. Chisholm said these finding should not keep pregnant women from having routine ultrasounds.

"Women don't need to be concerned about potential safety of ultrasound that's being done for diagnostic purposes," said Dr. Chisholm.

However, doctors are discouraging what they call "entertainment ultrasounds," which is when the family just wants to see the baby, hear the heartbeat, and find out the gender.

A different ultrasound study said that the heat and vibrations from the ultrasound technology may one day be used to help shrink tumors and deliver medicine.


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