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Ultrasound Can Affect Fetal Brain Development

A new study out of the Yale University School of Medicine indicates that exposure to ultrasound waves during routine ultrasound scanning can affect fetal brain development.

Lead researcher Pasko Rakic encourages pregnant women to avoid unnecessary ultrasound scans until more research is done.

According to Rakic, although the specific effects of ultrasound waves on human brain development are not fully understood, the following health conditions are thought to be caused by misplacement of brain cells during embryonic development:

  • Mental retardation
  • Developmental dyslexia
  • Childhood epilepsy
  • Schizophrenia
  • Autism spectrum disorders

Misplacement of brain cells during embryonic development is what this most recent study found to happen in pregnant mice that were exposed to ultrasound waves.

Clearly, there are numerous differences between fetal development in humans and mice, differences that make the risk of detrimental effects caused by ultrasound scanning less likely in humans.

Still, in understanding the physiological effects that ultrasound waves are intended to have on live tissue, it seems prudent to avoid them whenever possible.

To learn more about the potential health risks of ultrasound scanning during pregnancy, view the following article:

Is Ultrasound Scanning During Pregnancy Worth the Risks?.


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Anonymous said...

Thanks so much, Dr. Kim for your very helpful email. I will be recommending you to others. I wanted to say that I have always been wary of things like ultrasounds during pregnancy, but I do want to share that my boys' lives were saved by a routine 18 week ultrasound. They were diagnosed with Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome which would have certainly been fatal for one or both if we had not had the ultrasound and a quick-acting perinatologist who sent us to Dr. Quintero in Florida for a laser surgery which corrected the condition. We now have 2 exceptionally intelligent, healthy & vibrant 4 year old boys. I am completly in support of caution when it comes to technology and things we don't know that could hurt us and our babies....but in this case I would probably not have my babies if I had not opted for the routine ultrasound. Thanks for your insights. I hope this is helpful to someone.
Monday, August 14, 2006 3:01:40 PM

While routine scans can sometimes pick up anomalies, caution is advisable. I once read about a woman in England who on the basis of a routine scan was told that her baby would be abnormal and who was consequently advised to have an abortion. When the pregancy was terminated, it turned out that her baby was completely normal. The woman was eventually paid £2000 in compensation.