Welcome to Show 84 Scans & Ultrasounds!! Tonight we discuss Routine Pre-natal Ultrasounds or RPUs. This show is not to condemn ultrasounds nor is it a judgment of women who choose routine ultrasound during pregnancy – this is to inform of the issues surrounding ultrasound’s use in clinical practice, and it’s information you most likely wouldn’t know unless you were doing your own research. LINK BELOW to listen!!
Ultrasound applies to all sound waves with a frequency above the audible range of normal human hearing (normal human hearing: 20hz – 20khz). Sound waves or frequencies higher that human hearing can and may cause some damage to the human body and evenmore to the unborn fetal body. Frequencies used in diagnostic ultrasound are commonly between 2 and 18mhz, a higher frequency than khz, which means that ultrasound frequency is higher than human hearing. Follow me?
Specifically for the U.S., today’s routine pregnancy ultrasounds are:
- Estimate gestational age (fetus age)
- Screen for certain genetic disorders
- Count # of fetuses
- Check fetus heart rate
- Check for ectopic pregnancy
- If baby is breeched
Initially, ultrasounds were used for only investigating possible problems i.e inevitable miscarriage, breeched baby, twins. I would say that those reasons or in these cases ultrasounds are useful right? However, these cases wouldn’t apply to everyone only those whom the Dr. would feel it’s necessary – certain symptoms or pre-existing medical conditions. With that being said, as we all know, often in medicine, techniques that may only be of value to a small percentage of people, little by little become adopted for routine use without proper study of benefits.
Today, there’s an ultrasound between 8-10 weeks for estimate gestational age (for due date). At 12-14 weeks for possible birth defects. 18-20 weeks which is also another scan for possible birth defects. Breeched baby around 32-36 weeks. Heart rate using a doppler (worse kind of ultrasound/sound waves) at each 1 month appontment until it gets closer to due date then it’s once a week until baby is born. That’s at least 4-5 ultrasounds/scans unless your doctor/OB thinks more should be done due to a suspected or unsuspected issue or pre-existing disease such as Lupus.
In Australia, a study conducted on 1400 pregnant women showed that women who had 5 monthly ultrasound tests, had lower weight babies compared to pregnant women who only had one throughout entire pregnancy. Researched published by the Canadian’s Medical Association’s Journal showed in a study of 72 children with delayed speech disorder, more than 70% of those children were exposed to frequent ultrasounds during pregnancy. (Remember: ultrasounds are above normal human hearing and any frequency above normal human hearing can cause damage to the human body and fetal body.
I declined the ultrasound given at my 12 week check up which is the ultrasound or screening offered, to test for down syndrome. I declined for a few reasons but my main reason was because I didn’t see any benefit in doing the screening. What I mean by that, for example, the screening or results were positive, what would I do? Terminating the pregnancy is not an option and there’s no treatments or anything like that until after birth – would knowing steal the joy of pregnancy and process? I saw nothing but mental stress, that’s what I would gain – me stressing, causing baby to stress. Also, it’s not for certain. The ultrasound detects possible defects – nothing is for certain until baby is born. So why put us through that?
What are your thoughts on routine pre-natal ultrasounds? Did you agree to all of them? or decline some? If declined, which ones? Know more info about issues surround ultrasounds, share in the comments!
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