Few women wonder if an ultrasound scan can be done during pregnancy. Most people take this procedure for granted: it is convenient, painless, gives immediate, extensive results and is considered safe. However, as with almost any medical procedure, the use of ultrasound comes with certain risks, such as misdiagnosis and possible negative effects on the fetus.
There is not a single confirmed official case of harm to a pregnant woman or a child after an ultrasound scan. However, ultrasound is a form of energy that affects the tissues it travels through. It is known that some animals use ultrasound as a weapon: dolphins jam fish with them, sperm whales – squid, etc. At the same time, embryonic ultrasound gives confidence that the child is growing and developing normally.
All mothers strive to avoid any interference with the body during pregnancy and childbirth. But to check if everything is in order with the child’s anatomy, ultrasound diagnostics is the best opportunity to obtain the necessary information. There are a number of benefits that ultrasound can provide.
What does ultrasound do during pregnancy
- Find out the exact date of pregnancy and due date.
- Exclude the presence of an ectopic pregnancy.
- The ability to find out the sex of the child and the number of future children.
- Assess the rate of fetal growth.
- Examine the placenta and amniotic fluid level.
- Diagnose gross deformities and dangerous genetic diseases of the fetus.
- Predict complications.
- Find out the presentation of the fetus in the womb.
In the process of diagnosis, high-frequency waves pass through the mother’s tissues and amniotic fluid, reflecting from the skeleton and internal organs of the child. The sensor reads these waves and displays them on the monitor screen. According to some scientists, at this time, the fetus’s heartbeat accelerates, it begins to react violently and move, trying to protect itself from radiation.
Ultrasound is believed to raise tissue temperature by 1.8-2.7 degrees Fahrenheit. Experiments have shown that ultrasound, both conventional pulsed and Doppler (a technique that sends a continuous wave of ultrasound), can heat tissue above the maximum allowable temperature, especially in the bone area, when the machine is in one place for more than 2-3 seconds.
The public was worried when the results of a study by scientists from Yale University were published in the German newspaper Die Zeit. They demonstrate a negative effect on the brain cells of an unborn child.
A group of specialists, led by the venerable neurobiologist Pasco Rakich, irradiated pregnant mice with an ultrasound examination device for 3 days. In newborn mice, brain neurons were found in the wrong place – deep in the layers of gray matter. That is, instead of taking the appropriate place in the cerebral cortex, the neurons simply “got lost” and lost some of the chemical characteristics of the “correct” neurons. As a result, the cells have completely mutated with deformation of their DNA, and they will no longer be able to perform their natural function.
Another study showed that adult mice that were exposed to ultrasound doses had a 22% decrease in the rate of cell division. Also, in animals, cells in the small intestine died twice as fast. Ultrasound diagnostics have been found to cause lung damage and focal bleeding in a number of other mammalian species.
A new study from the University of Washington found a link between autism in boys whose mothers had ultrasound in the first trimester and the severity of their illness.
In the 90s of the last century, there was a high risk of miscarriages or premature births. The test was carried out on 9000 pregnant women, divided into two groups. One group did not undergo ultrasound at all, and pregnancies proceeded without complications. Another underwent an ultrasound scan at 16–20 weeks and 16 fetal deaths were found.
In addition, the ultrasound examination by scientists from China indicates the risk of autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, jaundice, genetic disorders, childhood cancer and allergies. We know that an increase in the mother’s body temperature can cause birth defects. And if the temperature rises due to ultrasound, even locally, then the child may subsequently suffer from developmental defects.
Despite the results of laboratory experiments, which showed that ultrasound diagnostics can lead to physical changes in tissues, the relationship between ultrasound exposure during pregnancy and fetal malformations has not been confirmed. The lack of information is due to the fact that studies of the effect of ultrasound on humans in Western countries are not encouraged and in fact prohibited, since they are considered unethical.
Doctors say that the data received is not enough for an ultrasound scan to be recognized as either completely harmless or harmful or dangerous. In reality, only one thing has been proven: ultrasound can have a mechanical and thermal effect on various human tissues (and on a child as well). However, in reasonable quantities, the ultrasound procedure does not pose the slightest threat to the fetus and mother, in contrast to poor nutrition, stress and health problems.
Without a special need to get carried away with it is definitely not worth it. For this reason, we do not recommend that ultrasound of the fetus during pregnancy is carried out only out of curiosity, to determine the sex of the child and photographs of the fetus for memory. It is worth resorting to the procedure only for medical reasons and under the supervision of qualified medical personnel. Moreover, a pregnant woman should avoid even many familiar things.