The number of pregnant women having four or more ultrasounds during their pregnancies has nearly tripled in a decade, according to a study from McMaster University.
From 1996 to 2006 the number of pregnant women in Ontario who had four or more ultrasounds climbed from 8,500 to 25,000.
In that same period, the number of births dropped.
The study included data from 1.4 million singleton pregnancies that occurred between 1996 and 2006.
In that period, there were 3.57 million ultrasounds conducted, said lead investigator Dr. John You, assistant professor of Medicine and Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at McMaster University. The study was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
You said the study relied on data from OHIP billing claims, which did not include any confidential information, so investigators do not know the reason for the increase.
But he said some believe there’s an “entertainment value” to ultrasounds, especially in the 3-D format.
Current guidelines recommend only two ultrasounds for uncomplicated pregnancies.
From the above link:
A single ultrasound costs about $65. Nearly 3.6 million scans were done in Ontario over the 10-year study period, totalling an estimated $232 million.
"We're not arguing at all that ultrasounds are being overused in complicated, high-risk situations where there's pretty clear benefit from it," You said. "But, we're seeing lots of people getting four, five, six ultrasounds" for uncomplicated pregnancies.
Some studies have suggested possible links between frequent ultrasounds and smaller birth size, or babies more likely to be left-handed, which isn't in itself a problem but researchers have wondered what effect frequent scans might be having on the fetal brain. But You stressed the links are "soft" and not at all proven.
"As far as we know, ultrasounds really are quite safe," he said. "But since we don't know 100 per cent for sure, there's little reason to do additional ultrasounds if there's not much that can be gained from it."
Fetal ultrasounds are viewed by the fetus fetishists as a great boon to their cause. (Except when they aren't, of course.) All over the Excited States, incrementalist anti-abortion zealots promote and pass laws to force women who want an abortion to view their own innards in the hopes that they will bond with the murky blob.
But ultrasound technology is advancing. Which is good from the point of view of detecting anomalies and defects, but bad from the point of view of 'entertainment' ultrasounds. The US FDA warned about multiple ultrasounds and the more intensive 3D version years ago. And recently Connecticut banned 'non-medical' or entertainment fetal ultrasounds.
We at DJ! (and previously at Birth Pangs) have pondered the fetus fetishists enthusiasm for ultrasound. Well, OK, yeah, they're fetishists so they want to look at the objects of their (weird) desire. But at the same time, ultrasound is not without risk, and since they're all about the fetus, how can they square the sanctity of the fetus with the risks incurred by their desire to watch it squirming around?
Here is Canada's numero uno fetus fetishist reacting to the McMaster study.
Women want their ultrasounds to see their babies. And while seeing the baby can be entertaining, I find the word "entertainment" trivializes the experience. Isn't there a better word? I'm not keen on "bonding" either-- the fetus isn't fully experiencing your presence.
Something smells about the issue of ultrasounds. Health Canada advises against keepsake ultrasounds, but they're very routine. I had seven in my last pregnancy (many for specific medical reasons).
Seven? Heavens. . .
And here HER commenters take her out the woodshed for her poor research on the issue.
A 2006 study found that sustained exposure of mouse embryos to ultrasound waves caused a small but statistically significant number of neurons to fail to acquire their proper position during neuronal migration. It is highly unlikely that this result speaks directly to risks of fetal ultrasound as practiced in competent and responsible medical centers. There is no scientific evidence of an association between prenatal ultrasound exposure and autism, but there are very little data on human fetal exposure during diagnostic ultrasound, and the lack of recent epidemiological research and human data in the field has been called "appalling".
The cause of autism has been pinned on everything from "emotionally remote" mothers (since discredited) to vaccines, genetics, immunological disorders, environmental toxins and maternal infections. Today most researchers theorize that autism is caused by a complex interplay of genetics and environmental triggers. A far simpler possibility worthy of investigation is the pervasive use of prenatal ultrasound, which can cause potentially dangerous thermal effects.
Oh heck, go look at the results of googling 'autism fetal ultrasound' yourself. The query netted over 500,000 hits.
Autism, like fetal ultrasounding, is also 'soaring' with many fingers pointed, none definitively.
Obviously, there needs to be more and better research.
In the meantime, wouldn't prudent pregnant women go with what is medically advised?
Edited March 10, 2010 to remove fetal pr0n redirects.