Jennifer Margulis, author of The Business of Baby, exposes the cultural assumptions and institutional practices dictating pregnancy, childbirth, and infant nurturing as influenced by corporate interests rather than based on the best medical evidence. Margulis is a Senior Fellow at Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, and an award winning parenting writer. In an article yesterday for Newsweek: The Daily Beast, Margulis expresses informed skepticism regarding the health risks of the casual use of ultrasounds during pregnancy. Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR), formerly referred to as retardation, is among conditions that physicians utilize ultrasound technology to identify during pregnancy. However, ultrasounds themselves may be associated with the development of IUGR and they may not be any more instrumental in identifying them than palpation of the pregnant woman’s abdomen. Former director of Women’s and Children’s Health at the World Health Organization firmly asserted the later claim saying, “There is no justification for clinicians using routine ultrasound during pregnancy for the management of IUGR.” A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine compared outcomes for children of pregnant women who received two scans with that of those who received scans only when other medical indicators necessitated further investigation, finding that ultrasound scan has no positive bearing on fetal outcome. Explaining the discrepancy between utility and use may be the over $1 billion additional annual cost of routine ultrasounds in the U.S. To add injury to insult, a study published in Lancet found that women who received five ultrasounds had a significantly higher chance of developing intrauterine growth restriction than women who received one scan at eighteen weeks. One possible explanation for this association was found through a 2006 study conducted by neuroscientist Pasko Rakic M.D. and Yale University School of Medicine, finding that prenatal exposure to ultrasound waves affects the way that neurons arrange in the brains of mice. Though these findings are part of a larger, ongoing study utilizing primate brains, researcher Rakic considered the data too significant to withhold until the outcome of the larger study, warning, “We should be using the same care with ultrasound as with X-rays.” For Margulis’ full article, visit here or go to www.jennifermargulis.net additional writings regarding parenting and health.
Margulis, Jennifer. “Are Ultrasounds Causing Autism in Unborn Babies?” The Daily Beast. Newsweek/Daily Beast, 29 Apr. 2013. Web. 30 Apr. 2013. <http://www.thedailybeast.com/witw/articles/2013/04/29/are-ultrasounds-causing-autism-in-unborn-babies.html>.