One Angry Momma

Thursday, 16 August 2007


One of my biggest gripes about 'modern' maternity care is the extremely high use of ultrasound technology to both listen to unborn babies' heart beats and to examine their developing organs.We are constantly reassured by the powers that be that ultrasound is safe, and that there is no evidence to prove otherwise.

Today I read This BBC News Article. I think this news is fantastic for soldiers, and no doubt it has many other positive implications elsewhere. It will undoubtedly save many lives.

However, this news worries me. It scares me. During pregnancy a woman will have on average around 2 ultrasound scans for medical diagnostic purposes. In addition many women choose to pay for private "bonding" ultrasound scans, and many will have more than the usual 2 scans due to (often unfounded) concerns about the unborn baby. Then there are the 3-weekly midwife appointments (weekly towards the end of pregnancy) at which a doppler device known as a sonicaid is used to detect and monitor the baby's heart beat for a few minutes at a time. All in all over nine months this amount of exposure to ultrasound amounts to quite a lot, and for something that we don't actually fully understand the long term effects of this is incredibly worrying.

"The pressure changes induced by ultrasound lead to the formation of bubbles in the blood - an effect known as cavitation. This in turn may lead to the formation of free radicals - highly reactive charged molecules - which accelerate the clotting process."

If this is the effect ultrasound has on injured soldiers, then why is no one questioning the effect it will have on an unborn baby's developing body?

It constantly shocks and amazes me that so many people are happy to just accept what they are told unquestioningly.

Quote: "Obstetricians in Michigan3 studied 57 women who were at risk of giving birth prematurely. Half were given a weekly ultrasound examination; the rest received pelvic examinations to assess the state of their cervix. Preterm labour was more than doubled in the ultrasound group - 52 per cent - compared with 25 per cent in the controls. Although this was a small-scale study, this statistical difference was unlikely to have emerged by chance.

In a large randomised controlled trial from Helsinki,4 9000 women were randomly divided into two groups. The women in one group were scanned at 16-20 weeks whereas the women in the other group were not. Comparing the results from these groups revealed 20 miscarriages in the scanned group and none in the controls.

A later study carried out in London5 randomised 2475 women to receive routine Doppler ultrasound examination of the umbilical and uterine arteries at 19-22 weeks and at 32 weeks of pregnancy compared with women who received standard care without Doppler ultrasound. There were 16 perinatal deaths of normally formed infants in the Doppler group compared with four in the standard-care group.

It is not only pregnant women receiving antenatal care who are at risk. Physiotherapists use ultrasound to treat a number of conditions. A study done in Helsinki6 found that, if the physiotherapist was pregnant, handling ultrasound equipment for at least 20 hours a week significantly increased the risk of a spontaneous abortion."


If the above is not enough to concern you deeply then I would at least urge you to do some of your own online research into ultrasound technology before blindly offering your unborn child up for experimentation of unknown consequence.

Recommended reading:

Despite my rather strong views on ultrasound I do believe that like many other modern interventions ultrasound has it's place, but I do not believe that this place is in routine pre-natal care.

Claire's blood pressure hit the roof at: 15:53. 0 Comments.

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