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Are Ultrasounds Safe in Pregnancy?

How safe are ultrasounds in pregnancy?

Ultrasounds, which were once considered a routine part of pregnancy, have many moms questioning whether or not they need this form of prenatal testing. While many expectant mothers look forward to seeing their baby on the ultrasound screen, some are choosing to decline the use of ultrasound since it is not typically medically necessary. Still, there is something reassuring about seeing your baby bouncing around on that screen, and ultrasounds offer the chance to discover the gender and screen for a wide range of abnormalities. But you should do a little research to ensure that your ultrasound is a safe experience for both you and your baby.

Are Ultrasounds Safe?

In recent years, the rise in conditions like autism and speech disorders in children have led some parents to question whether or not routine prenatal testing, like ultrasounds, is the cause of these conditions.

Ultrasounds have been used for over 50 years in prenatal testing, yet there are still a few risks that moms should be aware of.

  • For one, ultrasounds use high-frequency sound waves to capture images of things inside the body. In your case, this would be images of your unborn baby and the other structures inside your womb.
  • During the ultrasound procedure, the operator uses a transducer to send sound waves towards your baby to create images on the screen. In some cases, this can increase your body temperature at the location where the sound waves are targeted. Temperature increases are the main potential risk from ultrasound, because extreme temperature increase can damage brain tissue in babies. However, this risk is very minimal.

Minimizing This Risk and Having Safe Ultrasounds 

While this risk of using an ultrasound is slight and very low, the fact that there is a risk at all makes some expectant moms feel worried. Moms must weigh the slight possibility of harm with the benefits of having an ultrasound.

For example, ultrasounds provide important information about the baby’s well-being, including whether or not your child may have abnormalities. Women in high-risk pregnancies who are experiencing complications can rely on ultrasounds to ensure that the placenta and baby are healthy in spite of their own health conditions.

The good news for you is that there are ways to minimize the risks associated with ultrasounds.

  • Properly maintained equipment is much less likely to expose the baby to heat extremes. Before your ultrasound, ask to see an ultrasound machine repair log, or find out about any probe-related issues the machine has had. If the machine is in good working order and has been properly maintained, you should be in good shape.
  • You can also give yourself peace of mind by learning more about the training the ultrasound tech has received. A well-trained tech combined with equipment that sees routine maintenance are the keys to a safe ultrasound. If you can check out these facts prior to your ultrasound, you can proceed with confidence that your baby can be safely scanned using this routine procedure.

Remember, ultrasounds are not new technology, and the rise in conditions like autism and speech disorders is a fairly recent phenomenon. With properly maintained equipment and the right technician delivering the test, you can have a safe, worry-free ultrasound. The peace of mind that you receive by seeing your baby healthy and happy inside your womb will be well worth the time invested in this common prenatal test.

Derrick Cruise advocates being an informed consumer, even when it comes to things as complex as . Before his wife’s first ultrasound, the technician was happy to show him that their equipment was safe, up to code and fully functioninal. Read his work at .

About the author: This blog post was written by a guest contributor. If you’d like to guest post for Hip Chick’s Guide to PMS, Pregnancy and Babies, please read my Guest Writing Policy for a guideline of what I am looking for. All guest posts need to be at least 500 words and be original to this site only.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • August 2, 2012, 3:43 pm

    Hello there! I found this article extremely interesting more so from the concern over the increase in autism. Here in the UK we believe this increase is in fact linked to the goverment’s programme on the use of multiple vaccines. Our daughter has had single vaccines especially for the measles mumps and rubella because we have found an increase in autism related to vaccines. They are too much for a little baby as live vaccines and all our doctor friends are advocating unofficially to go private and have the single vaccines for our daughter as they have done for their children too! Any thoughts on this in the USA?

  • July 5, 2012, 4:10 am

    We had ultrasounds with both of our two children and even now, 5 to10 years later, both are just fine. We never had any problems. Still, it is wise to be aware of what could happen. Thanks for sharing!

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