(Health Secrets) The use of prenatal ultrasound has increased dramatically within the last decade, despite safety and efficacy concerns. It is estimated by the March of Dimes Birth Defects that 70% of American women have at least one ultrasound during their pregnancy.
At the outset, prenatal ultrasound was used to detect possible problems in the pregnant woman and developing fetus, such as causes of bleeding during pregnancy, breech babies or twins. Ultrasound is very useful in these situations.
However, over the years ultrasound has become part of a routine check-up around 18-20 weeks for most pregnant women. It is not done to detect problems but rather to supposedly improve birth outcomes. It is fairly common to hear pregnant women say that they have an average of 3-4 ultrasounds throughout their pregnancy, even though their pregnancy is considered normal and not high risk.
As with many things in medicine, procedures are done routinely before any research is conducted long-term to study its effects. Such was the case with Thalidomide, an anti-nausea and sedative drug that was introduced in the 1950’s to help with sleeplessness as well as decreasing symptoms of morning sickness. Little did the pregnant women know who took the drug that Thalidomide would cause birth defects. Children of mothers who took Thalidomide were born with various limb defects, such as missing limbs, shorts limbs or too many limbs. The drug was pulled off the market in 1961, after it was found to cause birth defects.
Ultra sound does not improve birth outcomes
Research that has been conducted on the use of ultrasound to improve birth outcomes has consistently shown that this is not the case. Studies that have been conducted since the early 1990’s have shown some disturbing findings, such as increased incidence in perinatal death, dyslexia, left handedness, growth restriction, and decreased cell division as well as delayed speech.
How does ultrasound work? Ultrasound uses sound waves to create pictures of what the ultrasound is being aimed at. High frequency sound waves are directed at the area being examined. These sound waves bounce back and create a picture. This picture is what you show the soon-to-be grandparents, hang it on your refrigerator and make it the picture on your Christmas card.
Despite the smile this image might bring to your face, you might want to think twice about having a “routine” ultrasound performed.
There has been a growing trend in my chiropractic practice that is a cause for concern. More and more mothers are seeking chiropractic care for children with acid reflux. When I first started practice 10 years ago, I rarely had a mother bringing her child in for acid reflux. Today, it is one of the top reasons that babies are brought to my practice. Why is this? Could the increased incidence of ultrasound play a role? Though chiropractic adjustments help to reduce symptoms of acid reflux dramatically, one has to wonder why acid reflux is so prevalent.
It is important for expectant mothers as well as their partner/spouse/significant other, to do their research on ultrasound before agreeing to a “normal routine procedure”. There are no good reasons to use ultrasound to know the sex of your child or even your expected due date. Babies will be born when they are meant to be born. No ultrasound can predict the exact date of delivery as good as a woman’s body can.
In conclusion, there appears to be more than enough information to conclude that more research needs to be done on ultrasound and its effects on the developing fetus.
Photo by lunar caustic