Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Is ultrasound safe in pregnancy?

This post sheds some light on the truth about the recent claims made about ultrasound, and to advise parents-to-be whether or not these techniques are safe on their unborn babies

Photo courtesy of Miracle In Progress

Back in the Autumn of last year, I met with a pregnant Sam Bailey and her midwife from Miracle In Progress. It was the launch of a product that could look at babies in the womb in 4DHD and they were encouraging the press to pick it up - advertising the HD part of it, which was the new thing at the time.

I mention this as the current news about so called 'Souvenir Scans' took me back to that day - although Sam was well over the 10 week mark.

The Royal College of Obstetricians has recently advised that 'souvenir scans' should be banned for the first 10 weeks of pregnancy due to the potential harm of the high-frequency sound waves. A new scientific review has claimed that ultrasound – which uses sound waves to provide images of the fetus – could expose the unborn baby to unknown risks.

Goodness. If the baby could be at harm at that point in the pregnancy, then could it not also be at harm further into the pregnancy too? Dr James Nicopoullos, Consultant Gynaecologist at The Lister Hospital, London says, 
"Standard ultrasound techniques in early pregnancy are highly unlikely to be associated with immediate or long-term harm to the embryo or fetus. However, any theoretical risk may be slightly higher before 12 weeks when a fetus is smaller and more vulnerable to changes in temperature.”
Due to miscarriage, I was given multiple scans throughout pregnancy - and at an early stage. One when I was only seven weeks pregnant. I didn't know at the time that this could pose a risk to the baby. Would I have chosen not to be scanned if I had known? No I don't believe so. After everything my husband and I had already been through, I'm certain I would still have had early scans. Surely there are scenarios where it is more important to be scanned than not? On this note, Dr Nicopoullos says, 
“Scanning in early pregnancy is a vital tool to first assess for genetic abnormalities, to diagnose pregnancy complications such as ectopic pregnancy or to reassure those many women with early bleeding that all is progressing well. These benefits far outweigh any theoretical risk, especially if scan machines are used appropriately.”

FOOTNOTE - It is only when you have, then lose, or, worse still, don't manage to have at all, that you realise you would do everything in your power to nurture and protect the early stages of fetal development; and that a souvenir scan prior to a ten week pregnancy date seems totally illogical and inappropriate. Read my poem about miscarriage hereA pregnancy is precious and needs to be looked after right from the start. Some would say, from before the very start. Thinking about all that, surely souvenir scans ought to be saved for later on? Or better still, not considered at all? I would say, not knowing who your unborn baby looks like and what sex it is, are the most incredible surprises that Mother Nature can possibly ever offer. Wouldn't you agree?

The Lister Hospital, London
Occupying one of Chelsea’s most famous landmarks, The Lister Hospital offers the latest medical procedures as part of a renowned and highly successful hospital group, HCA that delivers world-class medical care to the capital. The Lister Hospital offers access to some of Britain’s leading specialists, many of who are considered amongst the best in the world. It is one of the highest rated hospitals with regard to patient care and hotel services, and aims to deliver patients the very best experience on their pathway from diagnosis to treatment.


Mummy Tries said...

I completely agree Emma. Although twelve weeks can feel like an eternity at the time, it really is best to wait.

Your poem is beautiful hon, the last line is so true xx

Louise said...

Such an interesting post. I had two scans prior to 10 weeks with my eldest daughter (who has a heart defect) due to bleeding in early pregnancy. Her heart defect would have already developed before the first of those scans so it wouldn't have been a factor but it does make you think about whether 'souvenir scans' early on are really a good idea. Before 10 weeks you can see so little anyway. Loved your poem too - so beautifully written.

Emma Oliver said...

Thanks Renee. Miscarriage is a difficult thing to go through. And makes pregnancy all the more difficult to go through. I wanted to capture this in poetry x

Emma Oliver said...

Very interesting comment Lou. Thank you.

Victoria Welton said...

A really interesting post Emma, and something that I totally wasn't aware of. Thank you for sharing this with Prose for Thought x