MANHASSET, NY – The U.S. Food & Drug Administration recently issued a consumer update discouraging expectant moms from getting ultrasounds simply to have “keepsake” images.
John Pellerito, MD, vice chairman of radiology for the North Shore-LIJ Health System, says while there are no studies citing the damage that comes from exposing a fetus to unnecessary ultrasound energy, there are studies done in a test tube of in-vitro tissue showing that high levels of ultrasound energy can heat the fetus’ tissue and mechanically disrupt its cells.
“I think that we need to keep in mind that an ultrasound is a medical test,” Dr. Pellerito says. “You want to do the study as quickly as possible [so] that there would be less energy in an examination performed in a shorter period of time.”
He said it was important for the patient to be involved in scheduled examinations.
“Talk to the sonographer and the physician who is performing the examination,” he said. “I think it allows some bonding of the mom with the growing baby. I think the bonding experience is important, but, again, it’s within the context of a medical examination. It’s not to be done purely to bring home pretty pictures.”