I've heard a lot of word-of-mouth information about how ultrasounds are not actually regulated by the FDA and excessive use may be dangerous. Please share any information you may have on ultrasounds. Thank you.
So far in all my reference books I've found a lot of talk about ultrasounds being relatively untested, which is their biggest contraindication.
Marsden Wagner in Born in the USA says, "The author of a repot on a large randomized trial involving 15, 151 pregnant women concluded, 'the finding of this study clearly indicate that ultrasound screening does not improve perinatal outcome in U.S. practice'...'It would seem prudent to limit ultrasound examinations of the fetus to those cases in which the information is likely to be of clinical importance'"(59).
Elizabeth Noble from Having Twins: "The long term effects of exposing the fetus to diagnostic levels of ultrasound are not known. Some studies have shown changed in the amniotic fluid cells, and a study in Japan found that mice fetuses exposed to high doses of ultrasound developed more birth defects than fetuses unexposed'(50).
Nancy Wainer from Silent Knife: "The FDA has cautioned against the use of diagnostic ultrasound in the first trimester because of potential harm to the developing fetus. yet many doctors choose to ignore the warnings and suggest scans to women who are staining, 'in order to put their fears to rest.'....Suppose the pregnancy proceeds normally, and a healthy baby is born. We don't know, and we won't know for twenty more years, at least, whether children exposed to ultrasound are healthy or whether they have suffered long term impairments"(144).
That's what I've got, I could probably dig a little more but that's a good jumping off point. I think the idea is that patience is a virtue and a little caution and patience before our babies are born could go a long way in keeping them healthy. On the other hand, I had scans at the beginning to confirm pregnancy and at twenty weeks to say "hello" to both my babies. So, I think it would be hard to do it any other way, though I'm going to give it a shot next time. Our mothers had us without ultrasound advice, so it's not something that a healthy pregnancy is dependent on.
We decided not to have any ultrasounds during pregnancy because there is so little known about whether or not they are causing damage. There have been no large studies done to prove their safety. I believe that all medical intervention in pregnancy and birth is for emergency or high risk
situations only. It is always just safer to avoid anything that is potentially harmful because there are a lot of things that the FDA has approved that kill or harm people everyday even when used as prescribed.
I just attended the Midwives Alliance of North America conference in Asilomar, CA. One session discussed the risks of ultrasound. Three things were concluded based on the latest studies:
1. Studies on animals show there are risks associated with the use of ultrasound.
2. Studies on humans are inconclusive, but do not say there is no risk.
3. Doppler ultrasound is known to be more risky (constant fetal monitoring is probably dangerous).
It is known that u/s does heat up bones in the fetus. So late u/s may be more dangerous than early u/s. However, little is known about the effects of u/s on growing cells in the beginning.
I tell my clients that we just don't know yet if it is safe. Obstetrics has a long history of using things on women and babies without first finding out the risks. (Thalidomide, cytotec, DES for example).
The teacher of my session, Saraswathi Vedam, will send all citations to MANA. You can get them by contacting MANA at mana.org.
I am asking this question because I'm having a VBAC after an unnecessary c-section over two years ago. I went regular medical model last time. I planning a homebirth with an awesome midwife this time. I went into this pregnancy saying I'd have one ultrasound just to rule out placenta previa (knowing there is a slightly greater risk after uterine surgery). After saying that to my midwife, she suggested that we could plan it late- about 28 weeks to make sure it was really a concern and not repeat ultrasounds if diagnosed early and then migrated. The more I'm thinking about it, the more I'm thinking I don't want one, for the reasons listed above and my belief that I'm having a normal pregnancy. Also, my cousin just had a pregnancy with real placenta previa and started bleeding at about 22 weeks -with ongoing issues. I am 22 weeks and have had no issues. I'm wondering if it is really necessary, thinking that we would be able to tell if I had true placenta previa. Any ideas?