Several patients have asked me about a recent article in the Wall Street Journal concerning the use of multiple ultrasounds during routine pregnancy without clear medical need. The article suggests that many expectant mothers have too many ultrasounds, some even receiving up to a dozen in one pregnancy. The article states that some experts recommend only two ultrasounds per low risk pregnancy.
Ultrasound has been used to evaluate the health and development of pregnancies for decades, and to date no study has demonstrated any harmful effects of ultrasound on a fetus. Having said that, the WSJ article points out that while modern ultrasound machines use higher intensity for better clarity, new studies have not been done in the follow up.
At the OB/GYN Group of Austin, we believe that the risks and benefits of any procedure, including obstetric ultrasound should be carefully considered.
My typical patient receives an ultrasound upon their first visit to establish a clear due date and to assure no miscarriage. She then undergoes two additional ultrasounds, one at 12 weeks and one at 20 weeks to identify any type of birth defect. Many times I will recommend a late term ultrasound at around 36 weeks to evaluate and estimate the weight of the fetus at the time of delivery. This is an average of three to four ultrasounds per delivery.
I believe further research will continue to demonstrate the safety of fetal ultrasound. However, until that time, I recommend the minimum number of ultrasounds for low risk pregnancies. I appreciate this article’s effort to update the public and I hope that non-medically indicated ultrasound will soon be a thing of the past.
Our goal at The OB/GYN Group of Austin is to help our patients have a safe and healthy pregnancy and ultrasound remains one of our most valuable tools in this process. If you have any questions regarding ultrasound and pregnancy, please contact your OB/GYN.
This blog post is in response to: WSJ.com Pregnant Women Get More Ultrasounds, Without Clear Medical Need
Author Dr. Abikhaled is board certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. She has been in private practice since 1997 and has been listed as a Texas Super Doctor (recognizing the top 5 percent of Texas physicians), as noted in Texas Monthly Magazine.