Expectant parents should avoid the use of ultrasounds for nonmedical reasons, according to maternal-fetal medicine experts at Loyola University Health System.
"Ultrasound is a valuable tool when done for medical purposes by trained professionals," said Jean Goodman, MD, Loyola University Health System. "But this technology should not be used for entertainment purposes to see an image of a baby or to identify gender."
The Food and Drug Administration recently warned against the use of these so-called "keepsake" ultrasounds, strongly discouraging their use for creating fetal images and videos. The agency noted that ultrasounds can heat tissues slightly and in some cases, produce very small bubbles in the tissue. The long-term effects of tissue heating are not known.
Fetal ultrasound imaging provides real-time images of the fetus. Doppler fetal ultrasound heartbeat monitors are hand-held ultrasound devices that let you listen to the heartbeat of the fetus. Neither is intended for over-the-counter (OTC) use.
Dr. Goodman noted that keepsake ultrasound facilities are popping up in local strip malls.
She encouraged expectant parents to look for medical institutions that are certified by the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine when considering prenatal care. These facilities complete a rigorous certification process to ensure safe operation of this technology.
"Keepsake ultrasound facilities are not regulated and you don't want to expose expectant mothers and babies to medical technology in the wrong hands," Dr. Goodman said.
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