Does ultrasound have any risks? Ultrasound is safe for you and your baby when done by your health care provider. Because ultrasound uses sound waves instead of radiation, it’s safer than X-rays. Providers have used ultrasound for more than 30 years, and they have not found any dangerous risks.
Ultrasound is safe for you and your baby when done by a health care provider. Ultrasound uses sound waves instead of radiation, so it’s generally safer than x-rays. Providers have used ultrasound for more than 30 years, and they have not found any dangerous risks.
Ultrasound uses sound waves to create an image of your baby. Ultrasounds are safe for you and your baby when done by a trained healthcare provider. Although they have not found any dangerous risks, providers have used ultrasound for more than 30 years and are continuing to evaluate any potential risks.
Ultrasound is a safe and noninvasive way to view your baby. Ultrasound uses sound waves instead of radiation to get images of the baby. It’s safe for you and your baby when done by your health care provider.
There are very few risks to an ultrasound, because it uses sound waves, not radiation. Ultrasound is safe for both you and your baby when done by your health care provider. This is because much higher doses of sound waves can be used with ultrasound than X-rays. Some providers may recommend not getting an ultrasound if you’ve had other children or know your due date. If that’s the case, they may ask to schedule your next appointment in four weeks so time has passed between ultrasounds.
Are Too Many Ultrasounds Bad For Baby
Ultrasound (also called sonogram) is a prenatal test offered to most pregnant women. It uses sound waves to show a picture of your baby in the uterus (womb). Ultrasound helps your health care provider check on your baby’s health and development.
Ultrasound can be a special part of pregnancy—it’s the first time you get to “see” your baby! Depending on when it’s done and your baby’s position, you may be able to see his hands, legs and other body parts. You may be able to tell if your baby’s a boy or a girl, so be sure to tell your provider if you don’t want to know!
Most women get an ultrasound in their second trimester at 18 to 20 weeks of pregnancy. Some also get a first-trimester ultrasound (also called an early ultrasound) before 14 weeks of pregnancy. The number of ultrasounds and timing may be different for women with certain health conditions like as asthma and obesity.
Talk to your provider about when an ultrasound is right for you.
What are some reasons for having an ultrasound?
Your provider uses ultrasound to do several things, including:
- To confirm (make sure) you’re pregnant
- To check your baby’s age and growth. This helps your provider figure out your due date.
- To check your baby’s heartbeat, muscle tone, movement and overall development
- To check to see if you’re pregnant with twins, triplets or more (also called multiples)
- To check if your baby is in the heads-first position before birth
- To examine your ovaries and uterus (womb). Ovaries are where eggs are stored in your body.
Your provider also uses ultrasound for screening and other testing. Screening means seeing if your baby is more likely than others to have a health condition; it doesn’t mean finding out for sure if your baby has the condition. Your provider may use ultrasound:
- To screen for birth defects, like spina bifida or heart defects. After an ultrasound, your provider may want to do more tests, called diagnostic tests, to see for sure if your baby has a birth defect. Birth defects are health conditions that a baby has at birth. Birth defects change the shape or function of one or more parts of the body. They can cause problems in overall health, in how the body develops, or in how the body works.
- To help with other prenatal tests, like chorionic villus sampling (also called CVS) or amniocentesis (also called amnio). CVS is when cells from the placenta are taken for testing. The placenta is tissue that provides nutrients for your baby. Amnio is a test where amniotic fluid and cells are taken from the sac around your baby.
- To check for pregnancy complications, including ectopic pregnancy, molar pregnancy and miscarriage.
Are there different kinds of ultrasound?
Yes. The kind you get depends on what your provider is checking for and how far along you are in pregnancy. All ultrasounds use a tool called a transducer that uses sound waves to create pictures of your baby on a computer. The most common kinds of ultrasound are:
- Transabdominal ultrasound. When you hear about ultrasound during pregnancy, it’s most likely this kind. You lay on your back on an exam table, and your provider covers your belly with a thin layer of gel. The gel helps the sound waves move more easily so you get a better picture. Then he moves the transducer across your belly. You may need to drink several glasses of water about 2 hours before the exam to have a full bladder during the test. A full bladder helps sound waves move more easily to get a better picture. Ultrasound is painless, but having a full bladder may be uncomfortable. The ultrasound takes about 20 minutes.
- Transvaginal ultrasound. This kind of ultrasound is done through the vagina (birth canal). You lay on your back on an exam table with your feet in stirrups. Your provider moves a thin transducer shaped like a wand into your vagina. You may feel some pressure from the transducer, but it shouldn’t cause pain. Your bladder needs to be empty or just partly full. This kind of ultrasound also takes about 20 minutes.
In special cases, your provider may use these kinds of ultrasound to get more information about your baby:
- Doppler ultrasound. This kind of ultrasound is used to check your baby’s blood flow if he’s not growing normally. Your provider uses a transducer to listen to your baby’s heartbeat and to measure the blood flow in the umbilical cord and in some of your baby’s blood vessels. You also may get a Doppler ultrasound if you have Rh disease. This is a blood condition that can cause serious problems for your baby if it’s not treated. Doppler ultrasound usually is used in the last trimester, but it may be done earlier.
- 3-D ultrasound. A 3-D ultrasound takes thousands of pictures at once. It makes a 3-D image that’s almost as clear as a photograph. Some providers use this kind of ultrasound to make sure your baby’s organs are growing and developing normally. It can also check for abnormalities in a baby’s face. You also may get a 3-D ultrasound to check for problems in the uterus.
- 4-D ultrasound. This is like a 3-D ultrasound, but it also shows your baby’s movements in a video.
Does ultrasound have any risks?
Ultrasound is safe for you and your baby when done by your health care provider. Because ultrasound uses sound waves instead of radiation, it’s safer than X-rays. Providers have used ultrasound for more than 30 years, and they have not found any dangerous risks.
If your pregnancy is healthy, ultrasound is good at ruling out problems, but it can’t find every problem. It may miss some birth defects. Sometimes, a routine ultrasound may suggest that there is a birth defect when there really isn’t one. While follow-up tests often show that the baby is healthy, false alarms can cause worry for parents.
You may know of some places, like stores in a mall, that aren’t run by doctors or other medical professionals that offer “keepsake” 3-D or 4-D ultrasound pictures or videos for parents. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM) do not recommend these non-medical ultrasounds. The people doing them may not have medical training and may give you wrong or even harmful information.
What happens after an ultrasound?
For most women, ultrasound shows that the baby is growing normally. If your ultrasound is normal, just be sure to keep going to your prenatal checkups.
Sometimes, ultrasound may show that you and your baby need special care. For example, if the ultrasound shows your baby has spina bifida, he may be treated in the womb before birth. If the ultrasound shows that your baby is breech (feet-down instead of head-down), your provider may try to flip your baby’s position to head-down, or you may need to have a cesarean section (also called c-section). A c-section is surgery in which your baby is born through a cut that your doctor makes in your belly and uterus.
No matter what an ultrasound shows, talk to your provider about the best care for you and your baby.
How Many Ultrasounds Are Safe During Pregnancy
Many pregnant women have concerns about the safety of ultrasounds on their growing fetus. Rest assured, though, that the majority of studies indicate that limited use of ultrasounds during pregnancy won’t hurt a baby. Here’s what expectant parents need to know.
How Do Ultrasounds Work?
To understand the safety of ultrasounds, it helps to learn how they work. Ultrasounds send sound waves through the body to glimpse a baby’s tissues and organs. They’re especially useful for observing fetal development, and they can detect abnormalities in the womb—including some that can be addressed before your baby is born “There is a much higher likelihood that birth defects of all types will be identified by ultrasound,” says Bart Putterman, M.D., an OB-GYN at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women in Houston.
During the 15- to 30-minute procedure, the sonographer (someone trained to do ultrasounds) rubs gel on your abdomen. He/she then uses a special wand called a transducer that emits the sound waves to create pictures of your baby on the screen.
Are Ultrasounds Safe for Baby?
According to both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), there’s no evidence that ultrasounds harm a developing fetus. The exams don’t use radiation or x-rays. What’s more, “no links have been found between ultrasound and birth defects, childhood cancer, or developmental problems later in life,” according to ACOG.
But there’s also a catch: scientists aren’t sure if non-medical long-term ultrasound exposure is dangerous. The main concern is that energy from ultrasound waves heats up the tissues in your growing baby, and this might somehow affect her (thought his claim hasn’t been proven). “ACOG makes it very clear that the energy delivered to the fetus cannot be assumed to be completely safe,” says Michele Hakakha, M.D., an OB-GYN in Beverly Hills and author of Expecting 411. “The possibility exists that some ill effects may occur when ultrasound is used inappropriately.”
So how many ultrasounds are safe during pregnancy? There’s no clear answer, but despite the very slight possibility of risks, most experts agree that medically necessary ultrasounds are nothing to worry about.
Are 3D and 4D Ultrasounds Safe?
Some doctors use 3D ultrasounds to provide pictures of the baby with clear, photograph-quality details. Others have 4D ultrasounds with video capabilities, which let you see moving images of your baby in the womb. There are many benefits to these types of exams; for example, the high-quality imaging can help doctors better diagnose certain defects, says Dr. Hakakha.
Like their traditional two-dimensional counterparts, 3D and 4D ultrasounds are considered safe, as long as they’re conducted by a certified professional based on medical recommendation. Parents shouldn’t get a 3D or 4D ultrasound to simply have a “better look” at their baby’s face, says Dr. Hakakha. They should also avoid commercial shops that offer “keepsake” 3D ultrasound images and videos.
“Ultrasounds should be done only when medical information about pregnancy is needed, and should be done only at the lowest possible setting,” says Dr. Hakakha. “Ultrasounds at the mall, administered by a technician of unknown training using a machine of unknown calibration and safety, done for an unknown duration of time in order to get a picture of a fetus’ face, may be dangerous.” In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration also issued an update in December 2014 urging consumers to avoid these fetal “keepsake” ultrasound images and videos, as well as heartbeat monitors.
The Bottom Line
“Ultrasound has been in use during pregnancy for the past 35 to 40 years, and it has an extremely good safety record,” says Dr. Putterman, adding that there’s “no scientific data that indicate that ultrasound examinations are harmful for mothers or developing fetuses.” Still, experts recommend that you have ultrasounds only when medically necessary‚ and that means that you should avoid those commercial ultrasound shops. Only visit a trained professional who can interpret the results with accuracy and can detect abnormalities. Your technician should be schooled in obstetrical ultrasound, preferably at a center accredited by the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine.