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Are too many ultrasound scans bad for the mother and the baby?

Thursday, 29 November 2007
Answered by: Dr. Ashok Khurana
Director, Genitourinary and Vascular Ultrasound,
The Ultrasound Lab,
New Delhi
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Q. My 24-year-old wife is seven weeks pregnant. As per her gynaecologist's advice, she went for ultrasound scanning at the end of her seventh week. The report says early intrauterine gestation with a small echogenic structure adjacent to the yolk sac likely representing a fetal pole. The doctor recommended a follow-up scan to check for the fetal heart rate. When do you suggest she go for another scan? The next scanning will be for checking the fetus heart rate. Is it true that too many scans are not good for the baby and the mother?

A.  The embryo is evident in a pregnancy 3-4 weeks after fertilisation or 5-6 weeks after the last menstrual period in a 28-day menstrual cycle. The most common reason for findings as in your ultrasound is a delayed conception and the follow-up scan will confirm this. Very occasionally, these findings indicate a pregnancy that has sub-optimal growth and is headed for a miscarriage situation. This again would be excluded or confirmed in the follow-up ultrasound scan. The follow-up scan should be done 7-10 days after your previous scan. All ultrasound scans, as they are done today, are safe for the mother and the developing baby and there is no scientific evidence to suggest any ill effects of ultrasound.

A.  The embryo is evident in a pregnancy 3-4 weeks after fertilisation or 5-6 weeks after the last menstrual period in a 28-day menstrual cycle. The most common reason for findings as in your ultrasound is a delayed conception and the follow-up scan will confirm this. Very occasionally, these findings indicate a pregnancy that has sub-optimal growth and is headed for a miscarriage situation. This again would be excluded or confirmed in the follow-up ultrasound scan. The follow-up scan should be done 7-10 days after your previous scan. All ultrasound scans, as they are done today, are safe for the mother and the developing baby and there is no scientific evidence to suggest any ill effects of ultrasound.

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