Are you sure you want that ultrasound? | Part 1: The risks of ultrasounds

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How fun is that, seeing that little beany on the screen for the first time and knowing that is your baby! However… have you ever considered the risks of a scan? If you have, then you were more than likely reassured that it is perfectly safe. But let me be straight with you right away, I am not a fan of ultrasounds. Especially if you have a history of miscarriages already. In this post, I will share with you why and what my experiences are. Spoiler alert, you have more choices at your disposal than to scan or not to scan!

risks of ultrasounds

If you want to read more about the research on the risks of ultrasounds then head on over to the second post of this series, if you would like to know what your ultrasound alternatives are, then post #3 is for you!

The first time I heard of the possible risks of ultrasounds, was in college. I remember my jaw dropping when a very experienced homeopath shared with our class in a laid-back manner how she had been seeing more kids with auto-immune problems and that she traced it back to them having been exposed to multiple ultrasounds in the womb. I just couldn’t believe something so “normal” could possibly not be as safe as thought.

Little could I have known that years down the line I’d have specialized in fertility and would be confronted with the risks of ultrasounds in yet another way…

I like to treat moms-to-be gently because too many people already tell you what you should and shouldn’t be doing. However, I’d do you a great injustice if I did not brutally honestly share with you what my day-to-day experience with ultrasounds is as a fertility homeopath.

The number one thing I have encountered with ultrasounds is women having missed abortions (fetus stops developing but is not expelled) following an early scan.

Of course, this could be explained by the fact that a lot of my followers and patients in my clinic are a certain group of women. These women often already have a history of miscarriages and are exactly the women that get offered early scans. (An early scan, by the way, is in most countries anywhere between 6 and 8 weeks).

However, after hearing about too many of these missed abortions, I could not ignore what all these women had in common.

Not only did these women lose their babies after having had perfectly good scans (right fetal size, heartbeat, gestational sack) but more often than not, these women would have silent (or missed) abortions. Because with a missed abortion the fetus is usually not expelled, these pregnancies often end in curettage (D&C).

Here is the shocking bit that I discovered: after the D&C these moms are usually told that the fetus stopped developing around the same time as they had the scan.

The last two pregnancies [both missed abortions] were the first time I had ever received ultrasounds so early. With my other pregnancies my ultrasound were all done after the 12 week mark” – groupmember Becoming Vital & Fertile

The explanation they are usually given?… “These things happen”.

Hang on, so it is by chance that every one of these women that share their stories with me had their baby die right after the ultrasound? It has nothing to do with the scan but it is because they are already prone to miscarriage? And the fact that these are not just any type of miscarriage but the fetus stops developing right around that same time of the scan is just a coincidence..?

I find that an unacceptable explanation.

Statistics vary, but depending on the study you read, the chance of having 2 miscarriages in a row is only around 2%. Having 3 or more in a row only about 1%. Having a missed abortion supposedly only happens in 1% of all pregnancies (versus the total of 20% of miscarriages).

With such small statistics, what are the odds of these women having multiple missed abortions in a row and it not having anything to do with the scan?

Especially when usually these babies are said to have stopped developing right around the same time they had the scan?

As I researched the risks of ultrasounds, I discovered that ultrasound raises the temperature of the tissue. If there is overheating, it can lead to cell death and slowing down of cell division. When your baby is so little that consists of a couple of cells, having a few cells die will logically have a huge effect. Not only that, when dividing cells is exactly what baby is doing non-stop, slowing down that process is not good either.

Knowing this, the overheating of the fetus during the early scans could explain why the moms don’t just miscarry, but the baby spontaneously stops developing.

You can understand that my previously careful warnings towards pregnant women have now become more of an are-you-very-very-very-sure-you-need-to-be-doing-this-conversation.

I realize that if you are in the position that you need to decide whether to scan or not to scan, you want more research facts to make up your mind and you want to know what your alternatives are.

Therefore I have dedicated two more posts to this topic. There I will be sharing more in-depth what research and facts I found about the risks of ultrasounds. In the third post, I will also be covering what your alternatives are, even when you are an expecting mom with a history of miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies.