Every mother is anxious to know how her baby is developing during pregnancy. The only way to check the progress of your fetus is with an ultrasound. There is a common, lingering question, however. Are ultrasound scans safe? Is it possible to use these high-frequency sound waves to safely check the health of your little one?
Why is an ultrasound scan needed?
Before wonder whether ultrasound is safe during pregnancy or not, you need to know about this scanning method and why it is used during pregnancy. The benefits of an ultrasound are:
- You are able to predict the due date accurately. In fact, there are studies to support the fact that carrying out an ultrasound before your baby is 14 weeks old can tell you your due date very accurately.
- It is possible to determine the gender of the baby. Although revealing the gender of the baby is banned in India, several countries still use ultrasound to learn the gender of the baby.
- You can confirm the chances of having twins.
- You are able to check for conditions related to pregnancy such as ectopic pregnancy and placenta previa.
- The heartbeat of the baby can be monitored as an effective way of checking the baby’s health as well.
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Are ultrasound scans safe?
Are ultrasound safe? This is a question that is still quite highly debatable. While no link has been found with ultrasounds and birth defects or developmental issues, there is no evidence to suggest if ultrasound is safe in pregnancy. Because of this ambiguity, many doctors suggest that an ultrasound be performed only for medical reasons and by qualified professionals only.
What are the potential risks of an ultrasound?
The heat that an ultrasound generates is one of the biggest concerns. According to studies, any increase in tissue temperature up to 1.8 t0 2.7 degrees F is safe. However, whether you opt for pulsed or Doppler ultrasound, this safe temperature is exceeded, especially when it is in place for even 2-3 seconds at a stretch. With an ultrasound, the maximum heat generated is in the brain tissue of the fetus which may have adverse effects.
Studies have shown that ultrasounds in the early weeks of pregnancy can increase the risk of issues like allergies, autism, ADHD, jaundice and even genetic damage because of this increase in temperature.
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Precautionary measures during an ultrasound
While you may wonder is ultrasound safe during pregnancy, the truth is that it can help prevent several health risks for the mother and the baby. Here are some tips to safely use this medical facility to your benefit:
- Confirming pregnancy with an ultrasound is not recommended. Instead, choose alternatives like a blood test which is just as accurate.
- 3D and 4D ultrasounds should be avoided. This is because they generate a lot of heat. The heat generated can lead to cavities and bubbles in the tissues. If you do opt for these methods or any other form of an ultrasound scan, make sure that it is performed by a registered sonographer.
- Try to restrict the number of ultrasounds. Only one session during your pregnancy at 22-23 weeks instead of 18-20 weeks is recommended. This is when the fetus is also better developed to help you see more and get more from the ultrasound scan.
- Avoid a Doppler ultrasound. This is because the pulse of the waves used in a Doppler ultrasound is continuous. The Doppler ultrasound is only used to check the umbilical cord of the baby and is not really necessary.
- Keep your ultrasound sessions short. They should only be long enough to get the image that you need. Many couples spend several minutes looking at the scans and talking to the doctor during the scan. It is a good idea to finish your scan and then keep your questions for the doctor after the image has arrived.
- It is best to avoid a home-use hand held fetal monitor or even a Doppler as you are not trained to use one.
- You need not use this as a method to check the weight of the baby. Studies have revealed that ultrasounds to check the weight are usually inaccurate. They will show you results that vary quite drastically.
If you are not sure and are still wondering are ultrasound scans safe, you can ask your doctor for safer alternatives.
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