- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 8, 2006


Exposure to ultrasound can affect fetal brain development in mice, but researchers say the findings should not discourage pregnant women from having ultrasound scans for medical reasons.

When pregnant mice were exposed to ultrasound, a small number of nerve cells in the developing brains of their fetuses failed to extend correctly in the cerebral cortex.

“Our study in mice does not mean that use of ultrasound on human fetuses for appropriate diagnostic and medical purposes should be abandoned,” said lead researcher Dr. Pasko Rakic, chairman of the neurobiology department at Yale University School of Medicine.

However, he added, women should avoid unnecessary ultrasound scans until more research has been done.

Dr. Joshua Copel, president-elect of the American Institute of Ultrasound Medicine, said his organization tries to discourage “entertainment” ultrasound, but considers sonograms important when there is a medical benefit.

“Anytime we’re doing an ultrasound, we have to think of risk versus benefit. What clinical question are we trying to answer?” Dr. Copel asked. “It may be very important to know the exact dating of pregnancy. It’s certainly helpful to know the anatomy of the fetus, but we shouldn’t be holding a transducer on Mom’s abdomen for hours and hours and hours.”

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