Is it useful, is it necessary, is it safe?

When low intensity ultrasound was first developed for submarines, its use carried warnings particularly in relation to developing cells. Yet scans are now in frequent and routine use in pregnancy.

We are exposing embryos to high intensity ultrasound at very early stages of development even though very little research has been done into possible subtle and long term side effects.

Contra-indications for the Baby

Babies do not appear to like ultrasound. Many babies seem to try to hide in the boney shelter of the mother’s pelvis, or they jump about, increasing the likelihood of cord entanglement. Doppler, pulsed and colour ultrasound deliver very high intensity sound frequency. Scanning with a vaginal probe means the baby has less protection and nowhere to hide.
Uninvited we are intruding into the baby’s space.
With ultrasound, it is now possible to identify and monitor the baby from very early in pregnancy. This puts the baby at risk at the time of organ development, when the nervous system is at its most vulnerable, for no clear medical benefit.

Documented observations of the effects of ultrasound

...Apgar score is significantly lower in babies who have been exposed to ultrasound and they show higher levels of distress after induced birth.

...High exposure to ultrasound increases the risk of late spontaneous abortion. (Taskien et al 1990 Helsinki)

...4x higher than normal death rate of foetus. ( recorded at Queen Charlotte’s Hospital, London. J. Davies 1992)

...Central nervous system is most at risk, especially in boys, effects are likely to be subtle eg. to cochlea and inner ear, retina and visual cortex. (Prof R.L. Gardner Mole 1986)

...Increase in left handedness (Salvesen 1993)

...Increase in dyslexia seen in 7-12 year olds who had ultrasound as infants. (recorded in 3 separate US hospitals. Dr Doreen Liebenskind and Stark et al 1984)

...speech problems are more likely (J. Campbell ENT Canada)

Contra-indications for the Mother

The vaginal probe, currently in use for scans can feel very intrusive and is likely to restimulate trauma if there is a history of sexual abuse. It is likely that ultrasound will affect the germ cells in the mother's ovaries. (see Animal Studies below)

Animal Studies

  1. Rat pups exposed to ultrasound showed myelin damage in the central nervous system.
  2. Exposure to just one diagnostic dose of ultrasound resulted in abnormal behaviour and growth patterns in animal cells and these persisted for ten generations. If germ cells are exposed the effects may not show up until the next generation.

From this evidence it seems likely that ultrasound may affect the germ cells in the mother's ovaries as well as those in the developing baby.

We know so little
about the long term consequences
of the use of ultrasound,
surely it would be wise to limit
and monitor its use.

Links and References
Fertility and Physical Health
Emotional and Spiritual Preparation
New Beginnings: conception
In the Womb
Cell Memory
Bonding Before Birth
index page
©Lesley Downie