FDA and Doctors Frown on Video Ultrasound

June 28, 2006

Apparently, certain companies are offering expectant parents 4D, high-resolution video ultrasounds, according to a story in the Philadelphia Inquirer. But both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM) have issued warnings that these parents are tinkering with this new technology at their own risk.

The FDA has issued a blanket statement warning pregnant women against keepsake fetal videos, stating in part that the agency “views this as an unapproved use of a medical device.”

Both the FDA and the AIUM cite lack of regulation as the major concern.

But they admit that they have no evidence that the machines are harmful, and sound rather alarmist in their reasoning, at least to me:

Joshua A. Copel, AIUM’s president-elect and a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale School of Medicine, said that while there were no confirmed biological effects on pregnant women from exposures to ultrasound equipment, the possibility existed that effects might be identified in the future.

“There should be some medical benefit to ultrasound. I tried very hard to find a way to justify it,” Copel said.

Copel said he understood that many of these businesses were run by well-trained practitioners and that there was demand, “but I still feel that there is little benefit.”

And as for the claim many firms make that they offer pre-birth bonding with babies, “You bond by feeling the baby move. You bond by seeing the baby when it’s born. Bonding goes on without seeing these pictures, and it has for thousands of years.”

Well, what about the non-pregnant partner? This article showed a lot of happy fathers who were able to get a good look at their future offspring. I wonder if Copel’s group and the FDA are taking a lead in studying this matter before scaring any more parents about high-res ultrasounds?