Almost everyone who comments on my pregnant belly asks me if it's a boy or a girl, because they assume I've had an ultrasound.
Or they ask if I know what I'm having, to which I will respond with the obvious, "A baby."
I'll then explain that the baby's gender will be a surprise because due to the risks of prenatal ultrasound, I don't choose to have one, unless it's medically indicated.
Pregnancy is an incredibly exciting and suspenseful time. You find out you're growing a new person inside your body and it's such a long wait until birth to discover what they look like and who they are.
The temptation to peak inside the womb and find out more about this new baby is so enticing and highly-promoted that many parents are not given full information on the potential consequences of the ultrasound technology.
Diagnostic ultrasound on fetuses should only be used when medically necessary for diagnosis, for as short amount of time as possible and with the lowest frequency possible. However, the recommendations of the FDA, ACOG and global health organizations are ignored by doctors and parents who assume ultrasound is safe, based on incomplete data from over 25 years ago done on outdated devices.
Today the vast majority of pregnant women are receiving an increasing amount of routine ultrasounds, sometimes at every doctor visit, despite the lack of medically indicated need or benefit for low-risk pregnancies, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.
That's not the only way unborn babies are exposed to high levels of ultrasound too - Doppler ultrasound has just as many potential concerns. Handheld Dopplers are used frequently by doctors, nurses and midwives for listening to the heart rate, which emit constant ultrasound waves rather than pulsing like the diagnostic machines. Fetuses may be exposed to ultrasound even earlier in pregnancy, when the baby may be more vulnerable through the usage of Dopplers. Plus, fetuses are regularly exposed to continuous Doppler ultrasound for hours during labor via electronic fetal heart rate monitors.
Prenatal ultrasound and dopplers sound like a great idea, to be able to see the baby and hear the baby's heartbeat, but these diagnostic tools have negative side-effects and should only be used when medically indicated.
There has been global research showing that ultrasound can cause damage to mammalian brains and tissue for a long time, yet the extent of this has been minimized in Western medicine because of the risks of conducting human studies.
New research has been released from the University of Washington showing a direct correlation between diagnostic ultrasound in the first trimester and increased severity of autism symptoms in children with a genetic predisposition to certain kinds of autism.
Dr. Sarah Buckley has been researching the risks and concerns of prenatal ultrasound for more than 20 years, and experienced 4 healthy pregnancies with zero ultrasound use. Her articles on the dangers and lack of information about the risks of ultrasound are highly recommended reading for parents-to-be and birth professionals. Her work has been a big inspiration for me!
Read through Dr. Buckley's Ultrasound Scans in Pregnancy: Your Questions Answered & Ultrasound Scans: Cause For Concern to learn about how the effects of prenatal ultrasound are known to create biological changes including cell death, tissue heating and collapse, and myelin nerve damage in mammals and more.
Extensive studies in China have shown that prenatal ultrasound should be avoided as completely as possible, yet are mostly unknown in the Western world due to translation and accessibility issues.
Ultrasound use on fetuses and women's reproductive systems has not been proven to be harmless, and no studies have been conducted on a controlled population since before 1992.
Since the early 1990's, the diagnostic frequency of ultrasound technology approved for fetuses has increased from 94 to 720 mW/cm2, and some of the previous tests were done with only a 1.5W/cm2, showing that there is far from adequate safety tests done on prenatal ultrasound today.
In addition to an increased frequency of fetal ultrasound today, other issues include lack of safety testing on the new ultrasound technology being increasingly used, including Doppler and Transvaginal Ultrasound, as well as a lack of training for technicians in how to reduce exposure.
Most ultrasound today is being conducted at 8 to 10 times the frequency than used in the older machines from 25 years ago that human studies were last done on, as well as now performed significantly more often.
Whereas, 25 years ago babies may have received one or two ultrasounds at a low frequency, now some of those same babies are new pregnant mamas having their babies scanned both 10 times as strong and as often!
There is zero research on the safety of modern prenatal ultrasound use, and no proof that prenatal ultrasound increases infant outcomes.
In obstetrics today, diagnostic ultrasound is so pervasive and repeatedly encouraged, that the idea of questioning it seems surprising.
However, there are time-honored and inexpensive ways to listen to the baby's heart and placenta without using technology that has no side effects for the baby.