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Why does everyone have an ultrasound?

(69 Posts)
redted Mon 25-May-09 21:31:04

I am in the very early stages of pregnancy and not sure yet whether or not to have an ultrasound scan. In the area that I live two are offered, one at 12 weeks, one at 20 weeks. I definately won't have two but may choose to have one, probably at 20 weeks.

The thing is I have looked in to it a bit and found a few things that suggest that it may not be as safe as everyone seems to think it is. It has only been around since 1955, it used to be thought that x rays were safe in pregnancy, but now no one would do one due to the risks to the fetus.

There is also a large research study that suggests that women who were scanned routinely as opposed to those who were only scanned if there were problems had no better outcomes than those who were only scanned as indicated.

Anyone else declined scans? Did you regret it, did you get supported in your choice?

It is my third baby, I did have scans with the other two, with the first because I bled a bit and with the second because I was worried after the first one. Thankfully they both seem ok. smile

LynetteScavo Mon 25-May-09 21:33:36

Er....becuause we really, really want a peak at our baby, and maybe find out the sex?

redted Mon 25-May-09 21:34:41

You could always look at someone elses picture, they all look the same to me!! wink

katster37 Mon 25-May-09 21:38:24

Because if there is something wrong, then you can be prepared - eg some babies need surgery immediately after being born, or even in utero - this can be detected by ultrasound and then the necessary care arrangements can be provided.

slushy06 Mon 25-May-09 21:42:28

Also they check the position of the placenta and it can be dangerous if its low at birth but if they know you can avoid doing things more likely to cause a rupture, You find out if there is more than one baby, dates.

FabulousBakerGirl Mon 25-May-09 21:43:15

Why does anyone do anything?

Numerous reasons.

lou031205 Mon 25-May-09 21:46:58

redted because it is for screening. Most will have no better outcome because the outcome is a well baby regardless. But for those who have a poorly baby, the knowledge can save their child's life.

JamieJay Mon 25-May-09 21:49:14

I'll be having the NHS scan at 12 adn 20 weeks and possibly a private at 8 weeks.

Multiple reasons:

It's our first baby and we want a peek at our baby.

Because of the risk of a mmc and not knowing for however long it took for nature to take it's course.

To check for twins etc.

The prepare for any 'issues' that can be spotted during a scan.

To check the position of the placenta.

Not saying that scans are the only way of checking these things but the level of risk to which you refer to no higher than a number of things I do on a daily basis so I'm happy to run the risk.

Also, you've had scans with your first two, has anything happened to them that has indicated the scans were risky?

Portofino Mon 25-May-09 21:52:18

Umm, I had nuchal screening at 12 weeks, plus the 20 week one, and one at 37 weeks when i was admitted for too much fluid and transverse lie, and one at 39 weeks when they sent me home again...The last one was particularly lovely. A full grown baby just waiting to come out! I don't understand why you are so worried about this....?

FluffyBunnyGoneBad Mon 25-May-09 21:52:59

They use ultrasound for alot of reasons, size, to look at the fluid, blood flow, baby's internal organs. I'm a student radiographer and have looked into the effects of ultrasound and radiation via x-rays, as far as x-rays go, the scientists in the early days of it's development were getting health problems from the radiation so it has been known since x-rays became widespread that there are risks involved, it's not a new thing, it's been known since the late 1800s. Ultrasound uses sound waves and has been extensively researched and there are no effects.

You can decline the scans if you wish but they are used to check on the development and to make sure everything is how it should be. No one will force you to have them if you don't want them. They are very useful though and like all other medical tests, you wouldn't have them if they were not necessary.

MustHaveaVeryShortMemory Mon 25-May-09 23:04:10

"Ultrasound uses sound waves and has been extensively researched and there are no effects"

Interested to read this as like redted I had heard differently. Didn't have to look far to find this article which is referenced at the bottom

Is this out of date FluffyBunny? Have there been large, long term follow ups of the effects of US?

I had an US to check the position of the placenta, confirm there was just one and at 12 weeks make sure there was a heartbeat.

FluffyBunnyGoneBad Mon 25-May-09 23:09:53

I bet if you looked hard enough you'd find things on the web telling you that x-rays are safe! I'll have to get back to you on that one, although the site uses studies from the Lancet there are bits of info missing and it's not a credited site so I'm unsure whether this info is legitimate or not. They are all old studies aswell so I need to look for some up to date info. Sites like this are biased so only tell what they want, not the rest of the story.

AlexanderPandasMum Mon 25-May-09 23:35:41

People have scans to check for abnormalities. It is (obviously) not just a way of seeing your baby early. Sometimes things are picked up on that might save your baby's life. And the 20-week scan they check for EVERYTHING.

I can't understand why you wouldn't take up this offer of checking up on your baby. I don't think it could be that risky - for years and years people have been having them and there have been no ill effects. I had to have several in both pregnancies and will not hesitate this time around either.

MustHaveaVeryShortMemory Mon 25-May-09 23:35:50

Yes I've just been looking for the other side of the story but not finding what I expected.

For eg

Going to bed now but will have another look tomorrow.

BTW redted - I know one person who declined all scans because of concerns about safety. At the time I thought this was a bit OTT but perhaps her caution was justified? You could just ask them to check for a heartbeat at the 12 week scan???

FluffyBunnyGoneBad Mon 25-May-09 23:43:00

It's like x-rays though (not the same exposure), there needs to be a clinical need for it. In antenatal screening there is a need. If the baby is in need of urgent medical attention immediatly after delivery then this can be planned as the team know. A dopler ultrasuond isn't the same as a foetal ultrasuond IIRC, a dopler looks at the blood flow through the placenta and umbilical cord rather then at the fluid levels, size of the baby and internal organs. The link that you have posted did say that further studies are needed to establish whether problems found in pregnancy were due to the use of the doppler or some other reason and the paper is from 1999, so it's 10 years old. I'll look for some up to date research in the morning. smile

PerfectPrefect Mon 25-May-09 23:43:49

MustHave - I think that last abstract is a little mis-leading. Based on that abstract (and TBH there could be alternative interpretations of it) it looks as though the "harm" is not from the ultrasound itself but from the unnessary interventions that a non favourable observation may lead to.

Haven't read any of the other stuff in detail to comment.

redted Tue 26-May-09 16:48:13

This is what I found yesterday, which admitedly is quite old. here

Some people have said that babies can be saved if certain things are known about them before the birth, this article definately suggests that the overall outcomes are not better even if this is the case. In fact I have read in the past that babies actually do worse because they are induced early, have sections etc if problems are known, so not an actual side effect of ultrasound but a consequence. Can't find that one now though.

Someone said that my 2 are ok after having been scanned but I had quick ones with them to check dates and size. They took all of a few minutes each, not like a 20 week scan where there is alot more exposure to ultrasound. It is true that they are fine, but they are only 2 and 4.

I tried to get a copy of the midirs informed choice leaflet from their website but it didn't work so maybe I will be able to get one from my antenatal clinic when I am a bit further on.

Thanks for all your replies and helpful suggestions. smile

lynniep Tue 26-May-09 17:01:53

I'm having scans because I need to see my baby and know that its really there smile In fact I had an extra scan done privately because NHS couldnt get me an appointment until I was 15wks and I was so anxious about the whole thing. Yes, the pics all look the same - but theres nothing like the moment you actually see that little body and its wiggling - it really exists!
I also find it reassuring when everything looks 'normal' during the scan. I'm not naive enough to think that this means there will not be problems, but it puts my mind at rest for the time being.

PerfectPrefect Tue 26-May-09 17:38:40

BTW I was scanned (as a feotus) weekly from 20weeks ish to term and I seem OK.

DTDs were scanned fortnightly from 18wks to 26wks (when they were delivered) and they seem fine (at 8). one of DTDs is left handed - which I have heard associated with increased scanning. but she is a monochornic diamontiotic twin - which again is another risk fator for left handedness - so which US not necessarily relevant.

DD3 was scanned - with US directed at her head via a trnas-vaginal scan every fortnight from 18wks to 32wks. Again no harm.

mosschops30 Tue 26-May-09 17:45:12

How can you take a piece of research seriously when its been done by a company or someone with an interest in the outcome (e.g. unhindered living society or whatever it was). I was always taught that useful research should have no bias.

Ive had 3 scans already, one at 8 weeks, one at 11 weeks, one at 12 weeks and still have another 2 to go.
I love looking at my baby and would rather know of any problems, and of anything I could do to save my babies life with regards to placenta or inutero surgery

MustHaveaVeryShortMemory Tue 26-May-09 19:49:24

Well I was looking at the statement from the WHO and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report (on the unhindered living website) which ends in

"the potential for delayed effects has been virtually ignored".

I take this to be fairly unbiased as I can't see the financial benefit to anyone of not doing ultrasounds.

Still looking for a large study looking at long term effects of US and demonstrating its safety. Can't believe there doesn't seem to be one easily available.

FluffyBunnyGoneBad Wed 27-May-09 00:03:54

This would be the U.S.A who CT everyone rather then X-ray them, giving them all whopping doses of x-ray because they don't have a bloody clue??

LynetteScavo Wed 27-May-09 09:04:55

redted - do you really need to check size and dates?

For me this is the weakest reason for a scan - especially as I'm pretty sure the scan I has a 13 weeks with DS2 incorrectly dated him/me (us?), IMO.

sarah293 Wed 27-May-09 09:08:10

Message withdrawn

maxbear Wed 27-May-09 19:57:53

hmm, I have always worried about this a bit, as there are no large studies about the long term effects of scanning as far as I know. I was scanned as a fetus and I seem alright as do my children and most of my friends children, but for me until there is a big study, there will always be a niggling doubt.

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