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Publication Date: 
March, 2007
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Ultrasound examinations are a trusted diagnostic procedure in prenatal Healthcare. The benefits of ultrasound are numerous. However, research documents physical risks that must be taken seriously. Although many of these findings are inconclusive, they indicate that ultrasound examinations may not be totally benign. The following is an exploration of the current research available on the effects of ultrasound exposure on fetal development with discussion on potential physical, behavioral and psychological health risks.


Ang, E., Gluncic, V., Duque, Á., Schafer, M., & Rakic, P. (2006). Prenatal exposure to ultrasound waves impacts neuronal migration in mice. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 103(34), 12903-12910.

Bellieni, C.V., Buonocore, G., Bagnoli, F., Cordelli, D.M., Gasparre, O., Calonaci, F., Filardi, G., Merola, A., & Petraglia, F. (2005). Is an excessive number of prenatal ichnographies a risk for fetal growth? Early Human Development, 81, 689-693.

Campbell, S. (2002). Editorial. Ultrasound Obstetrics and Gynecology, 19, 1-4.

Cigna Healthcare Coverage Position: Ultrasound in pregnancy (including 3D and 4D ultrasound). (2005). Coverage position number: 0142, 1-8.

Hande, M.P., Devi, P., Uma, & Karanth, S. (1993). Effect of prenatal ultrasound exposure on adult behavior in mice. Neurotoxicology and Teratology, 15, 433-438.

Ji, E.K., Pretorius, D.H., Newton, R., Uyan, K., Hull, A.D., Hollenbach, K., & Nelson, T.R. (2005). Effects of ultrasound on maternal-fetal bonding: a comparison of two- and three-dimensional imaging. Ultrasound Obstetrics and Gynecology, 25, 473-477.

Kroeger, M. & Smith, L.J. (2004). Impact of birthing practices on breastfeeding: protecting the mother and baby continuum. Sudbury: Jones and Bartlett.

Newnham, J.P., Doherty, D., Kendall, G.E., Zubrick, S.R., Landou, L., & Stanley, F.J. (2004). Effects of repeated prenatal ultrasound examinations on childhood outcome up to 8 years of age: Follow-up of a randomized controlled trial. Lancet, 364, 2038-44.

Rados, C. (2004). FDA cautions against ultrasound 'keepsake' images. FDA Consumer Magazine, January-February Issue. Retrieved August 12, 2006 from http://fda.gov/ fdac/features/2004/104_images.html

Righetti, P.L., Dell'Avanzo, M., Grigio, M., & Nicolini, U. (2005). Maternal/paternal antenatal attachment and fourth-dimensional ultrasound technique: a preliminary report. British Journal of Psychology 96, 129-137.

Schmid, R.E. (August 7, 2006). Ultrasound may affect fetal brain: Study. Toronto Star. Retrieved August 12, 2005 from http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer? pagename=thesta...

Suresh, R., Devi, P., Uma, Ovchinnkov, N., & McRae, A. (2002). Long-term effects of diagnostic ultrasound during fetal period on postnatal development and adult behavior of mouse. Life Sciences, 71, 33-350.

Thomson, P. (2004). The impact of trauma on the embryo and fetus: an application of the diathesis-stress model and the neurovulnerability-neurotoxicity model. Journal of. Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health 79(1), 9-64.

Who says ultrasound is safe? (2004). AIMS Journal. 16 (4). Retrieved August 12, 2006 from http://www.airms.org.uk/Journal/Voll6No4/ultrasound.htm