Prenatal Ultrasounds: A Risky Proposition

by Sarah Healthy Pregnancy, Baby & ChildComments: 80

ultrasound

People are usually surprised when I tell them that I have never had an ultrasound despite having 3 children.    Ultrasounds are a standard medical test that most pregnant women undergo at least once during pregnancy if not 2 times or more.   Even birthing centers that specialize in low risk pregnancies such as where I received my prenatal care, recommend at least a single ultrasound.

It is never a good idea to submit to any medical test without first understanding exactly what you are getting yourself into.    Just because nearly every single pregnant woman gets an ultrasound or that most medical practicioners say that they are safe doesn’t mean that you should have one or that they really are safe.

Like many things in life, “safe” is certainly a matter of interpretation!

Make sure you have all the facts in hand before you judge whether or not the standard use of prenatal ultrasound is, in fact, truly safe for the precious life you are carrying inside you!

The experience that first got me very suspicious of ultrasound occurred when I was pregnant with my first child.   I remember that the baby jumped and seemed extremely disturbed every time I had a prenatal visit and the midwife used a doppler to check the heartbeat.

Why is my baby so upset by this doppler, I thought?    Intuitively, it seemed that something was just not right about the overly casual use of this device.

Why didn’t the midwife just use a fetascope instead, I wondered?

I went home after one of those prenatal visits determined to find out the truth.   I started researching and was shocked to find out that dopplers are a form of ultrasound!   I also discovered that ultrasounds in general are not the innocuous test that prenatal caregivers would lead you to believe.

Ultrasounds Have Never Been Proven Safe

The American Medical Association warns against unnecessary exposure to ultrasound.    A number of studies have indicated probable danger with this routine prenatal test.   One of the most concerning for me was a study reported in the journal Epidemiology in 2001 that showed that the chance of subtle brain damage increases dramatically in male babies whose mothers get prenatal ultrasounds.

Doctors have long known that left handedness in a child that is not genetically determined can be an indicator of brain damage.   When the rate of left handedness in children rises above 9% for right handed parents and 35% for left handed parents, scientists know that some form of negative impact on neural development has occurred.

In this study, the rate of left handedness for boys increased by 30% above historical genetic rates when a mother was exposed to prenatal ultrasound.   The incidence of left handedness was especially pronounced for mothers who had received more than one prenatal scan.

Left handedness has been increasing in recent decades and this puzzling rise beyond normal and historical genetic rates could very well be related to the common use of prenatal ultrasound.   The fetus’ brain undergoes critical brain development even very late in pregnancy (preterm babies are 5 times more likely to be left handed).    Moreoever, the brain of a male fetus develops at a slower rate than that of a female leaving boys at particular risk for ultrasonic injury.

The Ultrasound/Speech Delay Link

Another study that gave me pause and eventually persuaded me to opt out of all forms of ultrasound – even use of the doppler, was a study in 1993 and reported in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.   This study examined 72 children ages 2-8 who were suffering from speech delay of unknown cause.     These speech delay children were twice as likely as a control group to have been exposed to ultrasound in the womb.

Delayed speech is a likely indicator of sub-optimal conditions for development during gestation and ultrasound exposure seems to be linked to these less than ideal conditions for the fetus.

How Would Ultrasound Delay Speech?

Ultrasound as a potential reason for the increase in pediatric speech problems in recent years has a very likely cause.   This cause would be the incredible loudness that is produced in the womb as the ultrasound waves bounce around the uterus.

How loud, you may ask?

How about louder than your power mower, a motorcycle 25 feet away from you or a jet flyover at only 1000 feet?   How about LOUDER than the last rock concert you attended where your ears were ringing for a day or two afterward?

Yes, THAT loud!

Can you imagine the intense fright and the spike in stress hormones the baby experiences from an ultrasound not to mention the likelihood of damage to the little developing ears from 100-120 decibel ultrasound waves?

Oh, and by the way, hearing loss begins with exposure to sound at only 90-95 decibels, much LOWER than the sound the baby would hear from a routine ultrasound or a doppler heartbeat check.

Beware Continuous Electronic Fetal Monitoring During Labor

A favorite way for a hospital to monitor how baby is handling the stress of Mom’s labor is by strapping an electronic fetal monitor to her belly.    Be aware that this device is ultrasound and when it is strapped to your body, your poor child is not only enduring the stress of the birth process itself but also dealing with 100-120 decibel continuous, blaring sound at the same time!

I have no doubt that someday a study will finally be done that shows that babies that are subjected to the barbaric insult of electronic fetal monitoring during birth have more speech delay and brain damage induced left handedness than any control groups.

Just say no to electronic fetal monitoring and if your hospital or OB tries to talk you into the so called “benefits” of this practice, then find another OB!   Better yet, have your baby with a midwife at home or in a birthing center where such devices are never allowed through the front door.

More Reasons to Skip the Ultrasound

One of the best articles I’ve read on the dangers of ultrasound was written by Dr. Sarah Buckley MD in 2009.    In this article, Dr. Buckley gives a thorough rundown of the potential biological risks to the fetus from prenatal ultrasound as well as the studies that give pause for even considering such a procedure during pregnancy.

This article by Dr. Buckley is loaded with information.   If you are questioning the safety of ultrasound, I highly recommend that you dive in and read it thoroughly.   This blog only discusses the reasons why I personally chose to opt out of prenatal scans and use of the doppler.   There is much more to be told with regard to this story and more serious problems associated with ultrasounds such as a potential link with autism.

What Will Be Your Choice?

As mentioned above, after considering the biological dangers to my unborn children, I opted out of all prenatal ultrasound scans.   I also stopped allowing the use of a doppler during prenatal visits and asked the midwife to use a fetascope instead.    There is a drawback to using only the fetascope – you can’t hear the baby’s heartbeat until Mom is about 22 weeks gestation.

The inconvenience of waiting to hear the heartbeat so much later in the pregnancy seemed an easy trade-off for the peace of mind!

Note:  I did allow the very brief use of  a doppler during labor as use of a fetascope during the natural birth process does not work well when Mom is moving around a lot or is in and out of a laboring tub.

Even when I was 38 weeks pregnant with my third child and the midwife really wanted to do an ultrasound  because it appeared my baby had stopped growing, I refused.    I knew intuitively that the baby was just fine despite my advanced maternal age.

Guess what?   I was right, the baby was indeed fine and was simply 2 inches shorter in length than my previous pregnancies which accounted for my much smaller belly measurements during the third trimester.    To this day, I have never regretted not getting any ultrasounds and am very grateful that I trusted my instincts early to question what was happening with the doppler exams.   I believe skipping the ultrasounds is a big reason why my children all were articulating complete sentences very clearly at a very early age.   Of course, nutrient dense diet played a huge role too!!    But, what good is diet if you undo it with damaging medical tests?

What were your reasons for or against getting prenatal ultrasound scans?

Update:  Medical critic and researcher Jim West has recently published a book detailing 50 in utero human studies from China that prove irrefutably the high risk of prenatal ultrasound even at low frequencies.  This article contains more information on this research that Mothers must be made aware of in prenatal examination rooms.

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

Comments (80)

  • Mom

    Reading this article in 2015 and at eight-weeks pregnant. Decided to look up the risks of ultrasounds after learning that a friend of a friend had a scan at ten-weeks and used it as a means of letting others know she was pregnant. A wise woman noted that ultrasounds are very risky and wondered why the woman would subject her baby to the scan being that she is not considered high risk. Her comments sent me on a search for information on the risks. After reading the research, comments from other women, and also info on this site, I have confirmed my decision to forgo both the ultrasound and Doppler for this pregnancy. I recall having had an early scan and mid-pregnancy scan with my first, Doppler at appointments, and being subjected to wearing a fetal heart monitoring during my labor –although I had a low-risk and healthy pregnancy. I loathed being hooked up to monitors and told to assume a birthing position on my back. My first child is completely healthy, but I would be devasted had I learned that my child was affected by the testing. It may have helped that I breastfed for an extensive time. For this reason, I will absolutely only give birth in a birthing center or at home. Never again. Also, I will not take any birth control like depo shots after the pregnancy while breastfeeding or otherwise. I don’t care what these medical “geniuses” and “professionals” think about all this being safe. Intuitively, I know my baby is ok. Our mothers and grandmothers and scores of generations prior did just fine. Thanks for this article.

    January 16th, 2015 1:32 pm Reply
    • Del

      Ditto!! I’m on a quest to determine the necessity of EVERYTHING that’s pushed on us. I’m about 3 weeks gestation and I’m in the process of discovering and uncovering as much as possible, having been inspired by documentaries “The Business of Being Born” and its follow up “More Business of Being Born.” I don’t want to be extreme on either side of I don’t have to be, but I intend to be well informed and if that turns out to be an annoyance or nuisance to my Healthcare professional, then so be it! That’s not my intention, but it may just be the case. I’m excited to learn all I’ll be learning. And it’s funny because much of this began as a result of needing to understand why my health insurance won’t cover certain things. Granted, it’s not for good reason other than profit as opposed to the sole benefit and protection of mother/child. But it’s all good, that’s the ultimate responsibility of me and my husband! My journey continues…

      And thanks to the author for sharing!! God bless!

      February 8th, 2015 12:18 pm Reply
    • Nicole

      I am due in May my twin boys are about to turn two and are still not talking. They know what everything is, but cannot say anything but “mum-mum”, dada, and one says bwu for blue. They blasted them with ultrasounds because they are identical, and I feel so guilty for letting them be victims of modern “medicine”. They even kept one in the NICU despite an APGAR of 8 for 2 weeks. The biggest nightmare I have ever lived let me tell you, especially when the doctors even said my baby was healthy. Was clearly a money making motivation. Looking back, I wish I had gone with a midwife, homebirth and stayed away from that whole nightmare that may be the cause for their speech delay. This time around its home birth for my baby because I don’t trust any mainstream providers these days, its no wonder everyone is sick.

      February 13th, 2015 11:12 am Reply
      • Sigrid Aronsson

        Fantastic! It will be exciting to hear how this baby will do in a few years.
        The two best books about children and childbirth and woman’s health I know of, and these two are the first and so source in their area of knowledge, that is to say, it works and has not been changed over and over again, are:
        Every Woman’s Herbal by Dr. John R. Christopher and Cathy Gileadi.
        The Continuum Concept, in search of happiness lost, by Jean Liedloff.
        They are incredible and you are an aware mum so you ought to read them. In the former there is a formula that will make birth very easy, to take preferably for 8 weeks before birth, and also a herb that will help milk to come and all kinds of remedies and help and suggestions for home birth. It also warns against electronics such as ultrasound.

        April 3rd, 2015 1:08 pm Reply
  • Bethany

    Great article! I’m struggling over here with some midwife issues. Im almost 30 weeks pregnant and have had no ultrasounds or doppler use on me. I plan on going the rest of my pregnancy and labor with no ultrasound/ doppler. Im trying to make it very clear with my midwife that I am not ok with her using the Doppler during my labor, but she says things like if She was concerned and couldn’t hear the heart rate with a fetoscope would I allow her to use a doppler. I don’t know what to do, I absolutely don’t want the Doppler used on me and unfortunately I don’t think she’s all that comfortable with her fetoscope (it’s a small dinky lower quality one that doesn’t even have the stethoscope attached). Do I fire her and look for a new midwife or do I just stand my ground and tell her no i do not want the Doppler used on me during labor? Do I have that right?

    October 22nd, 2014 2:44 pm Reply
    • Sigrid Aronsson

      Did you tell her to get another stetoscope? What happened? Di all go fine?

      April 3rd, 2015 1:11 pm Reply
  • Dina

    Thank you for this article. I’m one that is wary of what’s typically recommended and claimed to be “safe” by the medical establishment. However, I’m almost 10 weeks pregnant and when I declined an ultrasound at my first prenatal appointment yesterday I got lectured by the doctor – saying that since I’m 38 (high risk age) I could have miscarried and not know it. It was such a horrible experience and put such fear in to me that we are looking into having a midwife or a naturopath doctor instead. But now that I KNOW that a woman can miscarry and still carry the baby for weeks without any symptoms I’m totally freaked out. My husband is completely against ultrasounds but I want to know the baby is okay. The doctor said there was no other way to get a heartbeat at this time (doppler at 13 weeks being the other option but that seems to be worse.) What do you think? Is there anything I can do besides ultrasound to know? I read pregnancy tests are sometimes accurate but not always since the placenta can still carry the hormone.

    April 17th, 2014 10:48 am Reply
    • Lauren

      I had my last of 8 children when I was 44. I never had an amniosentisiss or sonogram with any of my pregnancies. All 8 of my now adult children are very healthy, very intelligent well adjusted people. The doctors and their staff harassed me continuously through out my pregnancies and labor and delivery to have Ultra sounds performed, advocating their safely. I refused to have one unless there was a real good reason, like a life threatening situation. I delivered all of my babies without any medication. Five of my children were born after I turned 37. I am so grateful that I followed my own instincts. So many of my friends had babies with multitple mental and physical problems. I feel like I escaped personal disastor for myself, my husband and for my children. When is this instantly going to stop? How many more lives have to be ruin before someone yells STOP?
      PS: None of my children are left handled!

      August 15th, 2014 4:08 am Reply
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  • Josee

    I think that going into the pregnancy with a mindset that you are never going to have an ultrasound is very dangerous. I was high risk during all of my pregnancy. Increased risk of internal bleeding for me and my unborn baby. At the hospital I also spoke with other high risk moms. One of them her baby was born with her intestines outside her body…something that they spotted on the ultrasound and were appropriately prepared for when she delivered. Another one her baby had cranial bleeding…something that they were able to spot as well on the ultrasound. They were able to stop the bleed and stop the damage that was being done to the baby. I believe that without the ultrasounds you are playing Russian Roulette with serious health issues that can be monitored or even fixed. These possible health issues are permanent and sometimes deadly. Not a risk worth taking.

    October 15th, 2013 10:17 pm Reply
    • Lauren

      I totally agree! If there is a medical problem present, I would do anything necessary to save the babies and my life. My problem is with the prevelent use of sonograms for the purpose of finding out the sex of the baby or just to look at the baby everytime you have a check up. Also, the medical profession needs to inform the public of the dangers of having sonograms. That’s not unreasonable.

      August 15th, 2014 4:19 am Reply
  • Amanda

    I think you have made some very valid points. I agree that everybody should question any medical intervention pregnant or not. I am a crunchy mother of 3 ……..and a sonographer. I just want to shed some light on your message of how loud an ultrasound is.
    Ultrasound does not make the baby jump or react. They can not hear the ultrasound as the frequency is way above human hearing range (12 hertz to 20 kilohertz or 20 thousand hertz). We use around 5 megahertz ie 5 million hertz. A fetus will jump when startled by a loud noise eg a door slamming etc…most mothers will attest to that. A baby does not startle with an ultrasound.
    However I don’t think anybody is aware if these higher frequencies can cause other problems as nothing has been found so far in the studies that have been performed ( the link to an increase in left handed children is still been studied as many other studies have not found that correlation) and of course to some people not even considered as a risk.
    We are entering the 3rd and 4th generations of ultrasound usage and it would appear that it is reasonably safe but We all know how smoking was supposedly good for us turned out in the end. Therefore I am wary of telling any of my patients that any ultrasound is safe.
    Doppler ultrasound is more intense and not generally used by a sonographer (sonogram-making images) but is used by midwives and OB’s (listening for heartbeat- no images) albeit briefly.

    When pregnant any mother should be wary of anything she does and I am glad you are bringing this to the attention of the public because not enough people question the use of ultrasound. In the 16 years I have been scanning it has jumped in usage from 1 scan per normal pregnancy to now 3 for a normal pregnancy with many more if there are complications or you are privately cared for by an OB/GYN. And I think we have a new generation of medical establishment that are very complacent with the use of ultrasound among other things. Mothers need to be vigilant — no known risks is not the same as none known yet!
    On the other hand the use of ultrasound to help with certain abnormalities can not be ignored especially where early intervention is necessary to save the baby’s or mothers life. There are great advantages to mothers that have psychological barriers like antenatal or post natal depression etc begin the bonding process by ‘seeing’ their unborn child.

    Many of my friends question my career choice given how extreme we live on the natural end of the scale. I think it is important for us to have a voice in the medical industry and to help people navigate through it by planting the seeds of alternative choices with my patients and their health care providers or provide education to the increasing numbers of people who do question modern medicine but don’t know were to start. Lets face it when you start heading in the natural direction it is pretty daunting when you start from the other extreme. I like to think that those are the people that I help most from been in the medical system. I wish more people like me did work in the medical profession.

    Did I have ultrasounds for my 3 babies….yes I did. Not full length normal ones but short little peaks infrequently so far less exposure than most. Smile

    October 11th, 2013 9:23 pm Reply
  • sarah

    While I think it is important to be aware of the risks of excessive u/s there are significant benefits. I had two “low-risk” friends for whom this procedure made an amazing difference in their babies lives. I have no connection to the medical field and generally am very supportive of declining medical procedures if possible but a few personal experience with this have given me reason to support a single diagnostic ultrasound.

    One friend, in her 20’s healthy & 1st pregnancy found out her son had spina bifida and he was able to receive surgery in utero!! She was part of a trial group and it was so successful that the trial was abandoned and the recommendation for surgery in now standard practice. This is her story: http://www.nbcnews.com/video/nightly-news/41499228 Thomas was able to potty train (something many spina bifida patients can’t manage) and is excelling in school now. (I have known Heather since jr. high – she was an athlete and an honors student who took good care of herself. She wasn’t even 30 when she had Thomas.)

    The second friend found out at her 20w u/s that her son suffered from HLHS. Essentially the left side of his heart did not develop. Because they knew she was able to deliver at a university hospital with a pediatric cardiac unit where he was able to receive surgery within two days of his birth and he was immediately given a shot to keep his ductus arteriosus open.

    If HLHS is not disgnaosed in the womb many of these babies can be sent home as they appear normal and healthy for the first few days. Once the ductus arteriosus closes they start showing signs of oxygen deprivation. Obviously this can very quickly lead to irreversible brain damage.

    Both these children are doing very well because ultrasounds were used to diagnose these conditions in utero.

    I had three ultrasounds with my daughter – and had I known this information I probably wouldn’t have had more than one, but I do know that those ultrasounds helped me deal with some emotional issues I had surrounding my pregnancy and I think my port-partum experience was better for it. My daughter is in kindergarten, reading at a 6th grade level and her IQ score is daunting to say the least, so she seems to have come out all right.

    As with many medical procedures the critical piece of the puzzle is knowledge. I am glad that you took the time to provide these facts about some of the dangers, especially for women who are choosing additional ultrasounds for fun, but let’s not forget the good they can do as well.

    October 11th, 2013 8:19 am Reply
  • Kim

    This happened to me. I have five sons: two had extensive ultrasounds, and three had minimal or no ultrasounds done. Of the two that had ultrasounds, one is the only lefty I know of in our entire extended family, and both had speach delays. The three that had minimal or no ultrasounds all began to talk early and well. Thankfully, they all are doing fine now. I wish I had known 13 years ago about the effects of ultrasounds.

    October 10th, 2013 10:03 pm Reply
  • Courtney

    So my husband brought up a really good point; I read your article the day it was published but I didn’t really think much at the time. But now after discussing it, I think maybe you are missing a very important aspect in this post…what frequency are the ultra-sonic waves being sent out at? Did I miss that info? If you think of what ultra and sonic mean, this implies the same idea as UHF tv stations. It’s a super high frequency that humans CANNOT HEAR well, if at all. If you understand the way we hear sounds as a vibration, you understand that the higher the frequency, the smaller the wave that vibrates on our ear drum. So yes, 120 decibels is a lot, but if the frequency is super high, then it’s in essence passing though our ear drums undamaging. (At least to the hearing/ears) I’m not saying things like this are without risk, but throwing out only half the “scary” numbers isn’t very professional. I have my 20 week ultrasound comig up in 2 weeks and it’s my third baby. Neither of my children jumped or freaked out during ultrasounds any more than their usual activity. (Both my previous pregnancies were very active). I’m doing things like declining the diabetes sugar testing with that nasty sugar drink and eating as traditionally as I can with foods high in the right omegas and folates…despite my OB telling me that if I just took a regular prenatal I’d be “just fine” my children are both very healthy, have no signs of hearing issues (even after some testing with my son who apparently has “selective hearing” :-D) and are both highly intelligent.

    October 10th, 2013 10:22 am Reply
  • CAM

    Sarah,
    Thank you for posting what every pregnant woman needs to hear… the truth!!! I had my three children before sonograms and doppler. Thank God! All of your points are valid, here’s some more food for thought… maybe there are more high risk pregnancies because of our technology. My daughter had only one sonogram between two births, no trouble… my daughter inlaw had multiple sonograms and doppler and had to have a c-section with both.
    Keep the torch high, very few in the medical field will.

    March 3rd, 2013 4:24 pm Reply
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  • Helen T.

    Sarah – you are a TRUE heroine to me to point this out against the perceived wisdom (and against the medical establishment). I’ve never had children, but I’m always wondered about this…..especially once I heard a teacher interviewed on English radio saying how the children seem different after they started systematically scanning – she could see the differences in her classes since this teacher had had a long career.

    ALSO, I had to go through an MRI on my head once. Since then I can’t focus on a point – my eyes jump everywhere. At my next eye exam, the doctor said I had this condition – it was a Greek name, I forgot. Anyway….I CLEARLY could fix my gaze on something before that MRI.

    You and your sceptism are a treasure – KEEP IT UP!

    February 1st, 2012 7:05 am Reply
  • Mishell

    I just found this article and I am kind of shocked and numb. I was 34 when I was pregnant with my son, living in Germany. I had an ultrasound at EVERY dr. appointment. My baby hated it. He kicked the hell out of me during the exam, even at the mention of an appointment. Seriously! He is 3 now and still not really talking. His hearing has been tested and they said it was normal (whatever that means). He also has some behavioral issues that gave me real scare. I started researching autism… A diet change has helped in that regard, but I find it completely fascinating that there are connections to the ultrasound as well.

    January 6th, 2012 3:26 pm Reply
  • Avivah @ Oceans of Joy

    Sarah, I don’t know if you can attribute your children speaking early and well to the lack of ultrasounds. While I agree with most of what you wrote and years ago came to similar conclusions (haven’t had ultrasounds with the last seven children, and only very minimally with the first two), I haven’t seen early verbal skills or later speaking connected to diet or lack of ultrasounds. Two of our last three children started speaking later (not delayed by any means, but definitely not early or precocious like some others), and our diet was identical with all three (WAPF).

    December 21st, 2011 1:54 pm Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Hi Avivah, certainly diet is key as well as brain development would play a huge role. It seems so many children have delayed speech or speech impediments anymore even if they had excellent nutrition in the womb and were breastfed and were not vaccinated. Ultrasounds are a logical culprit.

      December 21st, 2011 2:28 pm Reply
      • Nicole

        I commented below during my pregnancy for my 3rd baby (2nd pregnancy), well at almost 3 months old he is very different from the twins. The homebirth was unsurprisingly far superior, peaceful and less invasive. Comparing the two pregnancies the first with numerous ultrasounds and a flu shot (regrettably), 0 vaccines for baby and WAPF diet to the last one with no ultrasounds, no vaccines, my infant is amazingly alert, babbling, smiling etc. The ultrasounds were the ONLY difference in my two pregnancies besides the flu shot- which I deeply regret. My twins are 2.5 years now and are still not even making 2-3 word sentences. They have wonderful receptive language and know even different complicated dinosaur words, colors shapes etc but are stuck on a dozen or so words and mostly mumble. I just wish I knew how to get justice for letting them do that and not providing me with complete informed consent! Doctors should do no harm, and clearly they harmed my beautiful precious twins, I will always feel guilty for not having woke up sooner.

        August 12th, 2015 1:19 pm Reply
        • Lisette

          I feel exactly the same , i had gestational diabetes and as a high risk pregnancy , i received an ultrasound every week , i asked about if it safe , and they always said that is safe and necessary. My son is now 3years old has developmental delays, he received therapies from early intervention program and i met other mothers with same problems and the common thing between all of us it was to have several ultrasounds during pregnancy. If i would know about ultrasounds before , i had never permit it. I am regreat about it every day in my life, because it affected what i love more.. my son. Why doctors in this country are allowing this? why?

          November 20th, 2015 1:46 pm Reply
          • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

            This is being allowed because doctors are more concerned with malpractice suits than patient safety. Simple as that.

            November 20th, 2015 5:05 pm
  • Dan

    As a left-handed individual I find some of the information presented somewhat disturbing. As physicicist I find other aspects bewildering and highly unlikely. As a physician I find this misleading. Many of the comments appear well thought out, but it’s clear that there is a core readership that will believe what they want, and that’s ok inasmuch as it doesn’t lead to an adverse event. I challange you to show clear substantiated evidence of damage caused directly by ultrasound in prenatal visits. You may find that the risk of not having an ultrasound is greater than risk of injury directly from ultrasound. All in all, a thought provoking blog.

    December 9th, 2011 1:10 am Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      The same thing was said about xrays of women’s pelvises decades ago. “Show clear substantiated evidence” was the cry from doctors who insisted this procedure was beneficial to the birth process. Well, it took decades for the severe damage to children be ascertained. Of course they are no longer performed. I am SO GRATEFUL my mother used her common sense to say NO to pelvic xrays despite the doctors pushing her to do it anyway. She knew it wasn’t a wise decision and didn’t need a double blind study to tell her as much.

      Similarly, I am not interested in waiting until that point for ultrasounds … my kids need a decision TODAY. There is plenty enough evidence already to cause serious worry about ultrasounds and the smart and forward thinking woman will skip them altogether. A truly wise person is able to make good, solid decisions without needing the absolute black and white truth to be smacking them in the face! Foolish people wait for double blind studies but guess what? It’s too late for their kids by then. DUMB MOVE.

      December 9th, 2011 9:57 am Reply
  • Diana

    Oh my goodness! Thank you so much for this information! I would have never even thought of this!

    November 11th, 2011 7:08 pm Reply
  • RadiantLux

    By the way, in the 1940’s and 50’s, they used to XRAY pregnant women until it was proven it caused birth defects.

    November 9th, 2011 11:43 pm Reply
  • RadiantLux

    I had read this during my 1st pregnancy. I felt powerless to resist all of the monitoring my OBs insisted on. I have mentioned this risk associated with ultrasounds to many people, including doctors. They all look at me as though I have 3 heads.

    November 9th, 2011 11:37 pm Reply
  • Erika

    Hi ! Thank you for the information ! I had no idea ! I had one to measure the baby (checking to make sure the baby doesn’t show signs of down syndrome. and another for the early gender test and growth. This test was done.. but when I was getting ready to leave they called me back into the room to do the test again.. It turns out that the person who did the gender test didn’t save the pictures so I had to lay back down for them to do it again. This was about a month ago and I have another appointment next week. I’m told that I have marginal placenta previa. I never heard of it before being told.

    This is my second pregnancy and on this one they told me that I’m a carrier for SMA which was never checked with my blood in the last hospital I was going to for my first pregnancy. I’m not too crazy about going back after having a sonogram recently. Thank goodness my husband isn’t a carrier so the baby is okay ! I’m worried about the location of the placenta and want to make sure that it is moving up instead of towards the cervix (covering it).

    I’m glad that you looked into it. I was going to cancel the appointment until my midwife told me that I had that. The appointment is almost 2 weeks before I see the midwife again.. otherwise I’d be tempted to move the appointment up. I’m not too crazy about going to the people who did my checkup because I have wondered about the safety of their equipment. After this, I will ask to not be checked again until possibly much later in my pregnancy (I’m almost 20 weeks now)..

    Thank you again for another great post ! I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have found this blog site months ago !

    November 3rd, 2011 7:22 pm Reply
  • Kristi

    I opted out of Ultrasounds in my pregnancy, due to the lack of safety guarantees around them. As well, I also just felt like I should be able to trust my own body.

    I was also going to opt out of the doppler that the midwives were pushing for, but my brother talked me into allowing it briefly each visit. Not sure why my brother cared, but… =)

    November 3rd, 2011 2:41 pm Reply
  • Heather

    Thank you so much for this information!

    I agree that standard medical procedure is not always “best practice” according to research findings or indications, and that women should be made aware of potential risks to themselves and their children so that they can determine what is best for their family. Many times technology is used to protect a doctor in case of a lawsuit to prove that everything possible was done, or to attract new customers or investors, rather than because it has been proven safe and effective for patients.

    Also, ultrasounds and Dopplers are great tools to have when medically necessary, but can’t save every child. My daughter was brain dead a few days before her full-term birth, but her heart still beat. The nurse midwife at my home birth (I was also under the care of an OBGYN) used a Doppler and heard a normal heart rate throughout, but when the umbilical cord was cut my daughter could not breathe on her own. There was no medical test that could have possibly given us this information before her birth, and I would never want to change the positive birth experience we had in exchange for a frightening experience full of tests and procedures to have the same result. My daughter was able to be an organ and tissue donor, and her strong, healthy heart saved the life of another child. Science is wonderful and has made great strides, but nature and our motherly instincts should be a part of the birth process as well.

    November 3rd, 2011 1:50 pm Reply
  • Mimi

    Well, I’d have to pretty much disagree with your view. Throughout my 3 pregnancies (all of which we used Dopplers, one of which I had an ultrasound), there was no noticeable increase of movement or heart-rate during those procedures. In fact, they were much more jumpy when I was just touching my belly. I think we could argue until the cows come home, but bottom line: I believe that the benefits of Dopplers and ultrasounds (i.e. discovering problems that can be addressed, often saving baby or mom’s life) far outweigh the possible risks involved. And FYI, My son who had the least exposure to these procedures has been the slowest talker of my 3 children.

    November 3rd, 2011 11:56 am Reply
  • LYM

    BTW, my parents are both right-handed; my husband and I are left-handed; our five children are all right-handed. How’s that for “not exactly falling out as genetics might predict”? :)

    December 10th, 2010 1:05 pm Reply
  • LYM

    I’m so glad to see this article! Even among my crunchy friends, almost all of them get prenatal ultrasounds just to determine gender. It boggles my mind. During my Bradley classes, I saw notes from the FDA requesting research into the safety of ultrasound in the early 80’s. As of 2001, that research still had not been done, and I think I’m correct to say it still has not been.

    I’ve seen research showing that in mice, cells become disturbed by the extremely rapid vibration caused by ultrasound waves, and that most of those disturbances do not return to the state they had before the ultrasound. But that’s about all we get in terms of research. It’s enough for me. I’ve had 4 babies since then, and not one ultrasound or doptone, other than the required 20-min strip at the hospital (which is the only one in Atlanta that’s remotely natural-birth friendly). Even that, I’ve avoided in two of the pregnancies by showing up in transition – can’t do a strip if I’m pushing as I enter the room, lol.

    Like a previous commenter, it’s not so much that I want to say “NEVER do ultrasounds” as it is that doctors need to give women the risks and benefits of ALL procedures and medications. Even the ACOG says that ultrasounds should *only* be done if a medical indication exists; they should not be done just to look at the baby for fun.

    If I had an AFP test come back with reason to look further, I’d consider an ultrasound. Otherwise, I’ll keep in mind the reality that doctors do x-rays for breast cancer imaging first, and *then* ultrasound. Why?

    December 10th, 2010 1:04 pm Reply
  • Anonymous

    Amen Lorna

    October 16th, 2010 4:55 am Reply
  • Mrs. Q

    Thank you so much for this information. I had no idea.

    October 10th, 2010 2:46 pm Reply
  • Lorna

    I had placenta brevia with my last pg and had lots of u/s. I never thought once about their safety for my son.
    I prayed almost all day laying in a hospital bed for 4 1/2-5 mo. Talk about stressful.

    But we have a good God and he interceded for my life and my son's. He was born c-section,talked quickly with normal development, but is left-handed. We are both right-handed. I do have a sister who was left-handed but she had a dificult birth also.

    Very interesting information after all these years he's 21 now.

    Whether it really is causitive or not, we have a source of power that supercedes situations.

    October 5th, 2010 5:14 pm Reply
  • Againstthegrain

    During my only pregnancy 12 years ago (at age 36) after a struggle with infertility (and certainly not wanting to risk my pregnancy), my mother, who enjoyed a 25 year career as a L & D RN at a private women's hospital, cautioned me about doing excessive U/S scans, as she was aware of the growing "casual" use of U/S and the lack of data indicating they were as safe as we assume and are led to believe.

    Being the "skeptic" that I am, I kept that "lack of data" in mind, however, I did ultimately have two U/S – one at 7 weeks due to bleeding, and again much later to check development/weight due to a gestational diabetes diagnosis. None were done just for my own curiosity, which seems to be the norm these days. I didn't even want to know the gender until the birth.

    I also declined the amnio, because to me, the risk to the pregnancy wasn't worth the information it might have provided. I struggled too hard to become pregnant Had I known there were concerns about using Doppler, I might have questioned or limited that, too, just as now I'd question the wisdom of inducing labor one day after my due date since the gestational diabetes had been well-controlled and my weight gain was only 28 pounds (unlike to produce a 13 pound baby).

    This issue is quite typical of how we as a society approach risk in a very irrational way. People get super-freaked out by horrible events that are extremely rare, and totally unpreventable unless one is clairvoyant or lives in an agoraphobic bubble, such as stranger abductions. Yet at the same time, we take far more dangerous risks very lightly because they are familiar, common and we think we have control over them – automobile accidents, which are the single biggest threat to our well-being and our children's well-being. We get into our cars, buckle our kids up, and hit the road without nary a care about the high risk we put ourselves and our loved ones in – and we know the potential grief that can come with accidents. It's like we can shut off our minds for some things that we willfully do, but turn then our minds on overdrive about things that are incredibly unlikely.

    We do need to have a better familiarity with the real risks we face and when we willfully or voluntarily take on additional risk because it seems familiar and seems safe or we haven't heard about data to the contrary (and we are probably esp vulnerable to risk when the effects are delayed, hard to directly attribute to cause, or there may be multifactorial causes).

    Which brings up another thought, that at least one commenter touched on. If these studies are epidemiological (links to the studies would have been useful), they only can point out correlation, and can never prove causation (big shoes correlate with better reading skills, too, but that doesn't mean wearing big shoes will improve reading skills).

    Epidemiological/observational studies are great for generating hypotheses, but that should just be a starting point for randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials to test the hypothesis, NOT a starting point for generating guidelines. It's very important to understand what studies can and cannot do – and observational studies can't prove causation. For ethical reasons it may not be possible to do controlled trials with ultrasound, nor would probably be feasible at this point) so we may never get the data that would give better evidence of safety or harm from these common procedures. In that case, exercising caution and prudence with U/S & Doppler, and limiting their use seems reasonable to me. We often forget (or never know) that while some aspects of medical care with pregnancy and childbirth have been positive, not all the gains have come without some significant downsides.

    October 4th, 2010 4:35 pm Reply
  • Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist

    Hi Arabella, my brother worked for the airlines for 20 years and the policy for women who worked in the industry is not to fly after 6 months pregnant as the change in pressure could be a problem. Not mentioned is the xray exposure while flying at high altitude. I have read that a flight from New York to London exposes you to the equivalent radiation of a chest xray. Not good. I myself did fly once at 4 months pregnant but it was a short flight of relatively low altitude. I would be very wary of long flights over ocean where the planes go so very high for long periods of time.

    October 3rd, 2010 12:18 pm Reply
  • Arabella

    Hi Sarah,
    Really enjoyed this post. Thank you for sharing this information with the world.
    A random question – do you have any information or ideas on the dangers of airplane travel whilst pregnant?
    My sister travelled from Australia to New Zealand during her last pregnancy and the baby flipped over for several weeks. Luckily, she was able to have it corrected, but her chances were slim. Any thoughts on this would be appreciated. Dr's generally recommend air plane travel is safe during most of the pregnancy , but a slight intuition is telling me differently!!

    thanks again,

    October 3rd, 2010 7:39 am Reply
  • Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist

    To all the Big Pharma trolls who are paid to spread propaganda and misinformation on blogs such as mine, your comments will be deleted and your lies will not be tolerated here.

    September 29th, 2010 4:53 pm Reply
    • Helen

      Good for you Sarah!

      December 16th, 2011 4:55 am Reply
  • Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist

    Hi Mommypotamus, thanks for sharing your experience. I am ok with the negative comments .. you always get some not matter what you do or where you go. My goal was to get the info out there for those who are open to hearing the truth about the dangers of this overly routine procedures. Congrats on the new baby, by the way!!!!

    onceuponthekitchencounter – you are right, actively seeking problems is not the way to go as you usually find them and they are usually either not important (as in my case when the baby had appeared to stop growing but was actually totally fine) or they are false positives as mommypotamus talked about before. You should assume and always expect that all is well as this greatly affects outcome. Our emotional state with which we approach things is so much more powerful than we realize.

    September 29th, 2010 12:04 pm Reply
  • onceuponthekitchencounter

    This post was of great interest to me. I somehow intuitively limited ultrasound during my pregnancy – declined it near the end when my midwives wanted to see how big my baby was, and declined doppler checks at my prenatal visits. I was happy with the fetoscope and just being in tune with the baby's movements. I did have a dating ultrasounds at the beginning and doppler intermittently while in labour though. Now I won't get any next time. I'm all for just letting things "be" – not actively looking for problems. That said, I'm grateful ultrasound exists for all those times when it's truly needed!!

    September 29th, 2010 3:06 am Reply
  • Sarah S

    You struck me as a lefty :) Thank you again for the great blog!!!

    September 29th, 2010 2:40 am Reply
  • Mommypotamus

    Great post! Although I expect you'll get a lot of negative comments, I'll bet there are a lot of lurkers who will think twice before they go in for their next scan. You will probably never know how many decisions you influenced.

    Personally, I am incredibly grateful that someone told me about the risks. I have two healthy, beautiful children and have never had an ultrasound. Most people argue that ultrasounds give expectant mothers "peace," but I say that's not necessarily true. Except for one very stressful event where we thought I had miscarried, I was very in-tune and at peace during both of my pregnancies. On the other hand, I have a friend who was terrified by a Down's diagnosis during a routine ultrasound . . . only to find out later that the diagnosis was incorrect. Even when I thought I had miscarried my husband and I decided against an ultrasound. I blogged about our experience and how we found peace at http://www.mommypotamus.com/prenatal-ultrasounds-peek-at-what-price/

    September 29th, 2010 1:37 am Reply
  • Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist

    Linda, if you read the blog you will see that the left handedness that is attributed to ultrasound is above and beyond normal genetic rates. I don't say that all left handedness is from ultrasound!

    September 29th, 2010 12:40 am Reply
  • Linda

    I was and still am very confident and comfortable with the choice I made to have ultrasounds during my pregnancies. I have no guilt at all. The reason I made the statement is because I feel it is wrong to take an issue like this and say it is the wrong choice for everyone. That is the tone of the blog.
    As for left handedness, I'm left handed. Ultrasounds were not around when I was born 43 yrs ago. There are left handed people in my family. My husband is left handed as well. Neither of our children(both pregnancies having ultrasounds) are left handed. I seriously doubt it has anything to do with ultrasounds. I tried to be right handed as a 1st grader, but it obviously was not the hand I should have been using to write with.

    September 29th, 2010 12:30 am Reply
  • joanne

    Hi Sarah,
    I was not aware of all the facts during most of my pregnancies but still chose to have only one scan and doppler checks. I cn see why the lady above mentioned the guilt issue because there is a pull between putting your mind at ease by 'seeing' your baby is fine with an ultrasound and just trusting that it will be. I think it is important to recognise (possibly in your article) that for many pregnancies monitoring is necessary and can avoid the death of a baby. It is not ideal and possibly shouldn't be routine but it does have a place in the field of obstetrics.

    September 28th, 2010 11:18 pm Reply
  • Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist

    Hi Sarah, I am left handed too!! Actually, I write left handed but do most other things right handed or with either hand.

    September 28th, 2010 8:05 pm Reply
  • Sarah S

    I so appreciate your blogs. Very informative. I have had two births at a great birthing center with midwives who did everything to avoid interventions, but they still did all the routine ultrasounds, now I have some great information to consider the next time. However, being left handed (it runs in my family) I have to wonder if more people are left handed today because they aren't forced to be right handed.

    September 28th, 2010 6:45 pm Reply
  • Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist

    Hi Martha, ultrasound to assess a kidney situation should be fine. I haven't seen any contraindications for this.

    September 28th, 2010 6:26 pm Reply
  • Megan

    My chiropractor–a smart man indeed–always told me to push off ultrasounds until the baby was into the 2nd semester because of the very same reasons you listed. It was so hard to take his advice though the first time you walk into the ob/gyn office and they say, "Wanna take a peek at your baby?" Of course I did!
    Well, we did have a few more after that, including 2 high-risk assessments, and everything was fine so I had no more after 23 wks, but I was offered a free one by a parent of a student with whom I worked. Intuitively I turned it down. I am so glad I did, because it might have shown that my little one was "small for gestational age" and thrown me out of the birth center. While that might have been good info to know, even without knowing about that, she had a perfectly healthy and natural birth, safely at a birth center, and I'm glad for the unnecessary medical intervention late in the game.

    However, I bemoan the fact (based on all these studies), that for future, Lord Willing pregnancies, I will forever be labeled "high risk" and require several ultrasounds. I guess it's SOP now but it seems like a LOT.

    Thankfully I know so much more about nutrition and real food now that next time around I will have hopefully have a healthier baby and pregnancy!

    September 28th, 2010 6:20 pm Reply
  • Martha

    Are ultrasounds outside of pregnancy safe? My little boy has periodic kidney ultrasounds for cysts–just to monitor their growth.

    September 28th, 2010 6:04 pm Reply
  • Mama G

    My problem isn't with whether women choose to have the ultrasound or not. Every woman, pregnancy and family is different. No one should feel guilty for what they did or didn't do, provided they weighed the benefits and risks and made a choice based on what was best for their situation at that time.

    My problem is with the fact that most doctors don't INFORM you of risks for things they consider routine. I am pregnant now and can say with all certainty that the OB's office does not inform you of the risks associated with their routine tests or monitoring. They do however tell you all the things that could be wrong that the test or monitoring will possibly indicate. The nurse recently tried to guilt trip me because I declined tests, and doppler. The only reason I even knew I could decline them was my previous midwife was passionate about informed consent/decline. I did however choose to have the ultrasound at my first visit because we had no idea how far along I was or if I was a canidate for VBAC based on healing from the c-section and number of babies. Once the risk of my pregnancy was established, the was not needed for me. However, that is for ME to decided based on MY situation. As I said, every family, woman, pregnancy and situation is different.

    This information is not common knowledge. Every person has the right, and a responsibility, to make an informed decision about their medical care. We can not have meaningful change to the health care industry nor the declining health of our citizens until they are empowered with information to choose for themselves. No law, insurance or reform will have any kind of meaningful impact until patients are given the tools necessary to make truly informed consent/decline choices.

    September 28th, 2010 5:53 pm Reply
  • Elizabeth

    I have to add, that although, not knowing the potential risks of ultrasound, that even though I had 3 done during my pregnancy, my daughter is very advanced. We always ate well, but not a higher fat and grassfed diet until she was 10-12months old. But, she was talking by then. She's now 2 and sings entire songs, knows the alphabet and upper and lower case letters, etc… I feel that diet has influenced her for good, and she's now getting a lot of the fats, etc she needs to make these brain connections at a young age. Either way, I don't feel "guilty" for having ultrasounds done, because I didn't know better at the time- but now that i'm more educated, as all of us are after reading this, that we can go forward having more knowledge, and making more informed choices for our families. :) Thank you again Sarah, for sharing what you have learned.

    September 28th, 2010 5:19 pm Reply
  • Sarah @ threeboys-home.blogspot.com

    I feel like this is a what comes first the chicken or the egg situation. The babys who generally have more ultrasounds are usually the one's who are categorized as "high risk" for whatever reason. So is it the US that is causing the problem or is it the reason FOR the ultrasound? I think that is very hard to tease out. Also Alix, there was a more recent study out about twins that showed no long term difference in IQ once twins reach adulthood.

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6W4M-4RR831Y-1&_user=10&_coverDate=12%2F31%2F2008&_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_orig=search&_origin=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_searchStrId=1477327504&_rerunOrigin=google&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=00372f93d287c1c729e995c86898f796&searchtype=a

    Check it out!
    Sarah. Mom to a singleton and a set of twins.

    September 28th, 2010 5:01 pm Reply
  • Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist

    Hi Anonymous, if I had been in the same situation as you, I probably would have done the same thing. Ultrasounds can be very helpful for high risk situations such as a baby requiring a blood transfusion in utero. I just wish doctors were more selective as to where and when the use this device as it is used way to casually in most instances even when the Mom is clearly very low risk.

    September 28th, 2010 4:28 pm Reply
    • Melissa

      Sarah it’s saved more lives than you can imagine. Unless you are a dolphin or bat you cannot hear it. The frequency is beyoud our hearing range. Also the transducer pulses out the sound waves and is a receiver 99% Of the time inorder to create the picture. I have been in this field for 30 years and you would be surprised at the things we find during a ” routine” ultrasound in the 18th week of pregnancy. Neural tube defects, GI defects, genetic defects, urinary tract defects , facial defects…I could go on. Most of these things were NEVER diagnosed prenatally before ultrsound exams. The problem is the doctor’s offices that use nonregistered, nontrained techs to do the exam. They take a couple of measurements of the head and leg tell you the sex of your baby and charge you the full pricefor an exam that is well below the standard of care. What you need tobe aware of is who is doing and interpreting your exam. Are theyy registered on OB sonography? Is the doctor interpreting it know how to even “read” an ultrasound?

      October 12th, 2013 8:10 am Reply
      • Summer

        Not to knock ultrasounds, but most of the defects you mentioned (except for the utmost severe) can be detected easily after birth and fixed, and others are so severe that no intervention would have helped anyway. What’s left are a few cases that actually required ultrasound for success, and still many of those would be medically indicated by a low fetal pulse (detected by a fetoscope) or abnormalities on screening blood tests or high-risk factors in the family. If there are any possible harmful effects, then not every family should have to undergo ultrasound. It’s not about trying to get people not to do it, it’s about making sure people have the CHOICE to evaluate the risk for themselves and not be judged for their personal decisions. It’s almost impossible to have a hospital birth now without some form of ultrasound being used. We cannot detect ultrasound, but once it vibrates through tissue, there are resonant waves of lower frequencies that possibly could be detected, and besides that, pulsing energy through living tissue has effects, whether we can hear it or not.

        January 24th, 2014 12:47 pm Reply
  • Anonymous

    I don't disagree with the position you have taken. That said, ultrasound was medically necessary for both of my children as I became RH sensitized during my 1st pregnancy and it was used to monitor the health of both of my children and if and when they would need a blood transfusion in utero (which my daughter required twice before birth and twice after birth). My son had many ultrasounds during my 3rd trimester. My daughter had ultrasounds at least every 2 weeks starting at 18 weeks. Both of my children are fine and have not shown any delays with speach (or anything else). I credit ultrasound as being one of the tools of modern science that actually saved my daughter's life and ensured that she is a healthy and happy little 3yo girl. So … there is a time and place for ultrasound and it appears to not have harmed either of my children – which is hopefully calming knews for those of you that are reading this and are faced with a situation such as I was where your unborn baby has to have a multitude of medically necessary ultrasounds.

    September 28th, 2010 4:09 pm Reply
  • Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist

    Thanks Kate – it's so important that this type of stuff gets talked about as not enough is being said in doctor's offices about the potential risks.

    Alix, I'm so glad your twins are doing great. I have no doubt that many scanned babies are totally fine, but the potential exists that harm can be done which is why pregnant Moms need to carefully make that choice for themselves after being fully informed.

    September 28th, 2010 4:01 pm Reply
  • Alix

    Sarah, what a great article. Thank you for sharing this with us. I'm appalled I didn't question the ultrasounds when I was pregnant with twins. I had a lot of ultrasounds. Thankfully, I was very careful with nutrition, like you, and my twins were both early speakers and readers. My son is in third grade and doing at least fifth grade math. In general, twins tend to have lower IQs than their singleton counterparts, but I think we bring up that average despite the ultrasounds. Actually it's just occurring to me that the many extra ultrasounds used in twin+ pregnancies could be a causative factor in the IQ hit????

    September 28th, 2010 3:39 pm Reply
  • Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama

    With my first baby…oh, the things I allowed! I was only 22, I didn't know anything, I was very mainstream (shocking, seeing where I am now!). I had two (long) ultrasounds, dopplers at every appointment from 16 weeks on, continuous fetal monitoring for at least 8 hours of labor. She didn't breastfeed well for SIX WEEKS. She had no interest immediately after birth (maybe because she was, um, slightly traumatized by what was done to her?) Luckily I wised up some and she's still breastfeeding at 32 months. But then we weren't eating real food yet, she had allergies to everything, she barely said a word until 27 months…. It was around 24 months we started GAPS and 27ish months when we relaxed the rules a little and got REALLY into real food…and she suddenly leapt forward and people comment now on much she talks!

    My son was born at home. Three very brief ultrasounds and doppler a couple times early in pregnancy, and very briefly during labor. Other than that, nothing. No drugs. He breastfed immediately after birth and has always had real food. He started saying "mama" at 8 months and now babbles/signs at 14 months and is extremely advanced in his gross motor skills. I don't think this is an accident at all.

    In my next pregnancy I will not be submitting to ANY ultrasounds or doppler (except, briefly, in labor) unless I REALLY felt that something was wrong. But I trust my instincts and generally feel these are not necessary, especially not as a routine test!

    I think it's sad when you bring up an important, controversial topic that people who disagree with you accuse you of making other feel guilty when you are just trying to state the facts. I see it all the time. People need to be okay with THEIR choices and if they are different, then fine. I often think it's their OWN sense of guilt over what they choose, because they were not truly comfortable, that makes them say this.

    September 28th, 2010 3:38 pm Reply
  • Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist

    Hi Linda, the information in this post is not common knowledge for most women who are pregnant. Women need to know the facts and make an informed choice once they are fully briefed on the very real risks of ultrasound. This is not about making anyone feel guilty but making sure the truth that ultrasounds are not safe is made available and not glossed over in the prenatal exam room.

    September 28th, 2010 3:26 pm Reply
    • VG

      This information is not factual and provides misleading and inaccurate conclusions. I taught ultrasound Physics for several years. I hope no woman who needs an ultrasound is mislead by this article.

      February 9th, 2014 8:42 pm Reply
      • VG

        I also wonder where the 100-120 decibels comes from. What is heard with Doppler is not the actual sound wave, but the difference in frequency between the transmitted and returned frequency. This difference is produced by movement of red blood cells. This is heard on a speaker with both a hand-held Doppler or Doppler on the ultrasound machine. As with any speaker, the sound is controlled by a volume button. So, what is the 100-120 decibel measurement referring to? We as professional sonographers, use a principle known as ALARA, as low as reasonably achievable, we use the least output for the least time. Of course ultrasound should be used for medical purposes, not just to know what sex baby a woman is having.

        February 9th, 2014 10:25 pm Reply
      • VG

        I do agree accurate knowledge is necessary, so don’t take the word of someone not educated in this field. Ask your Dr. or other qualified health professional or even better, a physicist.

        February 9th, 2014 10:31 pm Reply
  • Linda

    Because of my age when I had my children(especially my second) it was necessary. In fact a high level ultrasound found a problem with my son's umbilical cord. He could have had all kinds of serious problems because of it(and my age). Thankfully, with much prayer, he not only was healthy, he is the exact opposite of what could have happened. Both of my children are not only healthy, they are extremely intelligent.
    I don't think modern technology is always good, or not always good for everyone, but I am thankful for it in my case.
    Neither one of my children ever jumped or seemed disturbed by the monitor for listening to the heart or any of the many ultrasounds I had. Please don't make people feel guilty for doing what they know is best for their babies.

    September 28th, 2010 3:06 pm Reply
  • Anonymous

    I think Ultrasounds are a good way of knowing if your baby is growing right, and that nothing is wrong. They offer great piece of mind, and I will continue to get them with my pregnancies. I have a very hard time believing all of that information, especially since there are only a few links. You can't believe everything the internet tells you. Medical professionals are trained to make sure no harm comes to you or your baby and I trust that. I do NOT belive that one ultrasound in your pregnancy is going to harm the baby in anyway.

    To each their own, but that is just my opinion.

    September 28th, 2010 2:52 pm Reply
  • Sarah

    Though, in some cases ultrasounds are necessary. Despite my desire to have a natural birth and pregnancy, I had a high risk pregnancy and could very easily have lost my baby without conastant monitoring. I had extremely low fluid (related to a structural abnormality in my womb) and also pre-term dialation. I had an 85% chance of losing my child in the third trimester. I had ultrasounds every two days for the last month of the pregnancy. My baby sometimes slept through them and sometimes showed signs of being awake. I will never forget seeing her practice her breathing–knowing that if she came early (which she did not)–that lung development was one of the biggest worries. She is not hearing impaired or speech delayed.

    September 28th, 2010 1:02 pm Reply
    • Sarah

      Had I not had all the ultrasounds I did- (which was at first was at least once a month- then later turned into every other week- and then the last month because I was high risk (multiple miscarriages in first trimester), my daughter would not be here. They had to induce me a few weeks early- she stopped growing and would have been stillborn had I refused ultrasounds and not allowed them to have caught on that there was IUGR. She was born at 37 weeks and stopped growing after 33 weeks. She was starving. She weighed 4lbs 2oz- at 37 weeks. Thank God for the ultrasounds.

      January 11th, 2014 10:23 pm Reply
  • Anonymous

    Thanks for this info. Both my daughters are pregnant and it is difficult to not follow mainstream medical. My youngest daughter was the first "test tube" IVF baby at Mayo Clinic here in Rochester, MN. I had so many ultrasounds, I couldn't count them. She is healthy, 25 and pregnant with her first baby. However, I always felt uneasy with all the testing…..At some point you have to go with your instincts because there is so much conflicting data. It's difficult to find a comfort level….The daughters and husbands eat a WAPF diet (for one year).

    September 28th, 2010 12:08 pm Reply
  • Elizabeth

    Wow, this information is so crucial to be aware of. Thank you for sharing it. With my first pregnancy, I wasn't aware of the risks of ultrasound OR doppler- they become so commonplace in the "medical" world- they wanted me to have several, like it was no big deal. I'm now a huge supporter of avoiding or limiting ultrasounds, as it was part of the cause of needing to be induced according to medical "procedure" for low amniotic fluid. They would have not been able to induce me if I hadn't gone in for that ultrasound. My baby was totally healthy and would have been fine, but their routine interventions meant induction for me.
    I'm so glad i'm learning so much more about natural ways to child rear, in preparation for having another child someday. http://www.nourishingcreations.com

    September 28th, 2010 4:36 am Reply
  • Cara

    I'm glad you said something about dopplers. According to my research (this was back in 2005 before I got pg the first time) dopplers are actually more powerful than ultrasounds! While I haven't had an ultrasound for my two pregnancies, I would get one if I was unsure of the dates or if anything 'felt off' in the pregnancy.

    We used a fetoscope for my first, and with my second I did use a doppler a couple times near the end of the pregnancy :)

    September 28th, 2010 4:11 am Reply
    • Melissa

      Doppler IS ultrasound

      October 12th, 2013 7:55 am Reply
    • VG

      Ultrasound is not audible sound so humans can not hear or hearing be affected by ultrasound waves. What is heard when doing a Doppler is the Doppler frequency shift. It can vary in decibels. It is used little in OB, not at all in 1st trimester. Fluid and distance don’t allow baby to hear as much as you do. Doppler is also used for very brief intervals, unlike the rock concert or lawn mower. The thing we worry more about with Doppler usage is heat produced. This is also very small and has never shown bioeffects, same as all ultrasound. Don’t you think sonographers would be very concerned at doing ultrasound and hearing the audible Doppler shift if there was the possible hearing loss. They know enough not to be concerned, even when pregnant.

      February 9th, 2014 8:14 pm Reply
      • VG

        Sarah, What is the 100-120decibels produced by? This is audible sound, not ultrasound. The sound produced by the Doppler whether hand-held or ultrasound machine is caused by the difference in frequency between emitted ultrasound and that received after encountering red blood cells. This sound is definitely not in the 100-120 dB range. The sound comes from a speaker and volume is adjustable.

        February 10th, 2014 1:01 am Reply
        • Rebecca

          Here is what my friend posted for me when I posted this on a Facebook group:

          Here’s the secondary report on the study from which this infographic was generated: “Neither adults nor fetuses can hear ultrasound waves because they vibrate at too high a frequency for our ears to detect them. But James Greenleaf, Paul Ogburn and Mostafa Fatemi of the Mayo Foundation in Rochester, Minnesota, investigated the possibility that ultrasound could cause secondary vibrations in a woman’s uterus….When the ultrasound probe pointed right at the hydrophone, it registered 100 decibels, as loud as a subway train coming into a station. ‘It’s fairly loud if the probe is aimed right at the ear of the fetus,’ says Greenleaf.” The PDF of the actual study is publicly accessible as well. http://www.jultrasoundmed.org/content/20/8/883.full.pdf

          February 20th, 2014 10:38 am Reply

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