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A view in the womb

3D Ultrasound A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a woman whose company recently opened an elective 3D-4D ultrasound, Goldenview Ultrasound, just down the street from our store in Brookline. She was interested in doing some marketing together, since our businesses both see a lot of pregnant women. I was very hesitant. Common sense (and my Bradley Birth teacher from my first pregnancy) would dictate that unnecessary ultrasound exposure isn’t a good idea. But I decided to do some homework before I dismissed it out of hand.

I read as many different articles as I could find, and everything I read said that ultrasound has been proven safe over decades of use. Still suspicious, I called my OB, who is very natural-minded and a firm believer in minimizing interventions during pregnancy and delivery. Perfectly safe, she told me.

It was my mom, a psychologist, who raised another red flag. Scientists have shown that extended exposure to ultrasound causes improper development in certain brain cells – in mouse embryos. But still. This study raised concerns about a possible link between ultrasound and autism. The FDA frowns on “keepsake” ultrasounds, even going so far as to call it “an unapproved use of a medical device.” Yeesh.

But my sister, who is just about six weeks away from delivering her first baby, perked up when I mentioned elective ultrasound. She’s had, thank God, a very uneventful pregnancy, and at her second trimester ultrasound, the technician hadn’t been able to tell the gender of the baby.  Both she and her husband really wanted to know. “I’ve only had three ultrasounds my whole pregnancy,” she pointed out. If she could find out the gender and have a chance to see the baby again, why wouldn’t she?

So then I realized that this is not my decision to make on behalf of my customers. Or my sister. The outfit in Brookline is reputable and well-run, with medical advisers on staff and experienced technicians at the helm. The resource is there. If the moms-to-be want to use it, great. If not, also great.

Curious now, I arranged for my sister to have a 25 minute session this past week. Even my mother came around, and she and my dad, my youngest sister and me all settled into the spacious room along with my sister and brother-in-law. Soft music played, and the technician gave us all a sneak peek at the newest member of our family. It was a blast, and sure enough the gender was revealed (don’t ask – it’s a surprise for the rest of you). My sister had a great time, but at the end, when the technician offered her a free follow-up visit as part of a training session, she politely declined. “I can wait six more weeks to see my baby again.”

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