When and how many times should it be done?
The expectant mother is offered 3-4 ultrasound examinations during pregnancy. All women are wondering if such a procedure is harmful, will it affect the development of the baby and the health of the pregnant woman?
It is important to note that ultrasound diagnostics existed for over 50 years, and there is no study that shows the harmfulness of ultrasound rays on the fetus or the pregnant woman. However, it is not recommended to perform ultrasound without proper reasons. Especially in the early stages of pregnancy, when the fetal organs are formed (up to 10 weeks). Ultrasound should be performed for a specific purpose on the recommendation of a doctor.
Ultrasound diagnosis is recognized as the safest and most informative method of examination of fetal health during pregnancy.
When should the first ultrasound be done?
All around the world, the first ultrasound screening is made at 11-13 weeks pregnancy.
At an early term ultrasound should be performed only on strict indications. Such as:
- mismatch of the size of the uterus to the estimated pregnancy;
- bleeding during pregnancy;
- artificial fertilization (IVF) to clarify embryonic development.
When to do an ultrasound during pregnancy?
Three screening investigations are legal in the world throughout pregnancy:
- at 12 weeks,
- at 22 weeks,
- and at 32 weeks.
The investigation in each period has certain tasks:
12 weeks – chromosomal abnormalities are excluded, the term of pregnancy on the fetus is specified, gross developmental defects are rejected;
at 20-21 weeks – the anatomical structure of all organs and systems of the fetus is considered. Developmental defects in 5 systems of the body and the most important systems are excluded - that is the central nervous system and defects of the cardiovascular system.
Anatomical structures are already well visualized in this term.
In the 32nd week during ultrasound, the forebrain part of the fetus is determined first of all, the developmental delay and defects of fetal development are excluded. In late pregnancy, most attention should be paid to Doppler fetal examination. Doppler helps to define and characterize the blood flow in the vessels of the fetus and mother.
Is it harmful to do ultrasound during pregnancy?
It is impossible to answer the question "Is the ultrasound harmful?" unambiguously. It is clear that human experiments have not been conducted, so there are different opinions on this topic. Scientists do not know exactly what happens when the baby's body is exposed to ultrasound waves, how they affect the growing cells. Some studies have shown that microscopic changes occur at the cellular level. Experiments in animals have shown that ultrasound irradiation results in delayed embryonic growth and decreased reproduction.
Also, some claim that ultrasound affects the genome and can lead to mutations. Only large-scale studies can determine the exact effect of ultrasound on the body. Of course, if the harmfulness of the phenomenon is not proven, it does not mean its usefulness. But do not forget that ultrasound of a pregnant woman is a short-term study.
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