Ultrasound: more doubts raised

Yet another study confirms that routine ultrasound examination of normal women is of no benefit and the technique should be restricted to high-risk pregnancies.

The study of 15,000 women concluded: ‘There were no significant differences in the rate of adverse perinatal outcome (fetal or neonatal death or substantial neonatal morbidity).
Further, the rates of preterm birth in the two groups were almost identical, and the perinatal outcomes of post-date pregnancies, multiple gestations, and infants who were small for gestational age were similar.’

Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr Richard Berkowitz of the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York questions the routine use of ultrasound.

‘The trend in recent years has been to adopt new forms of technology uncritically, without verifying their usefulness,’ he says. ‘None of the studies published to date demonstrates an effect on the outcome of pregnancy in most low-risk women.’ He also warns that any supposed benefits of routine scanning ‘must be weighed against the possibility of false-positive and false-negative diagnoses, [and] concern about currently unidentified subtle bioeffects of exposure to ultrasound in utero.’- New Engl J Med, 16 September 1993.

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