Potential Harms of Routine Ultrasound

Ultrasounds That Are Not Medically Indicated

Many of our clients at Women's Circle are very excited to receive their first ultrasound and are interested in having "fun" ultrasounds done to identify the gender of the baby or just to get more pictures. We want our families to understand that ultrasound in pregnancy has been adopted into wide use without proof of safety and that there has been research that documents harm to unborn babies, particularly related to growth, neurological and speech problems. Furthermore, research has shown that in low-risk, healthy pregnancies there is no clear benefit or advantage to having an ultrasound done.

During your pregnancy if there is a medical indication an ultrasound will be ordered. In your fifth month if you would like, an ultrasound will be offered to check on development and growth and sometimes you are able to also find out the gender at this time. We encourage you to read and inform yourself about the risks involved in receiving an ultrasound and discourage you from getting any ultrasounds done that are not medically indicated. Both the World Health Organization (WHO) and National Institute of Health (NIH) warn against routine ultrasound in pregnancy as it offers no benefit in healthy pregnancies and can potentially cause damage to the developing fetus.


FDA - Risks/Benefits

Ultrasound imaging has been used for over 20 years and has an excellent safety record. It is non-ionizing radiation, so it does not have the same risks as x-rays or other types of ionizing radiation. Even though there are no known risks of ultrasound imaging, it can produce effects on the body. When ultrasound enters the body, it heats the tissues slightly. In some cases, it can also produce small pockets of gas in body fluids or tissues (cavitation). The long-term effects of tissue heating and cavitation are not known. Because of the particular concern for fetal exposures, national and international organizations have advocated prudent use of ultrasound imaging. Furthermore, the use of diagnostic ultrasound for non-medical purposes such as fetal keepsake videos has been discouraged. 

Please click on the links below to find out more about this extremely important issue: