The Short of It
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a statement strongly discouraging pregnant women from getting ultrasounds unless they're medically necessary. This statement is geared toward those that use fetal ultrasound imaging and Doppler fetal ultrasound heartbeat monitors for non-medical reasons, like creating keepsake images and videos.
Scans performed on a mom-to-be for non-medical reasons, like to produce a 3D/4D image for friends and family at an ultrasound party, may expose a growing baby to too many possible side effects.
Doctors don't know what the short-term or long-term effects are. Still, the FDA is concerned enough to issue a consumer update.
"Ultrasound can heat tissues slightly, and in some cases, it can also produce very small bubbles (cavitation) in some tissues," said Shahram Vaezy, FDA biomedical engineer, about the effects of ultrasounds that are understood.
Women shouldn't take this to mean that all scans are frowned upon. Certain scans, performed by a trained technician, are recommended during pregnancy, such as those intended to diagnose abnormalities. But the recreational use of ultrasounds may be a thing of the past.
Businesses specializing in 3D/4D images and keepsakes are likely not too happy about this announcement—nor are moms who recently hosted an ultrasound party. To those moms I say, we didn't know before that these recreational scans were ill-advised. So don't beat yourself up!
What I like most about this announcement is this: From belly casts to maternity photography to so-called Bellybuds, which allow your developing baby to hear music in the womb, chronicling a pregnancy and attempting to bond with your baby before the birth can get out of hand!
So the message behind the FDA's warning seems to be: if you don't know how a product or procedure may affect your child in utero, don't do it.
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