This also serves as an important catalytic effects for the bonding of mothers to their babies even before they are born. It is also called the "re-assurance scans" and misnamed as "entertainment scans." Some specialists do not recommend 3-D and 4-D ultrasound as manadatory development of the conventional 2-D scans. Although these may play a part in the study of fetal embryology.
There were many researches done on the in-vitro effects of ultrasonic insonation at various intensities, its effects on heating, cavitation and bubbles, as well as the mechanism of action, standardization of intensity measurements and making the different Guidelines on Biological Safety. There were also researches on immuno-suppresive effects, platelet aggregation, cell phagocytosis, DNA damage, fetal weight alterations and increase in sister chromatic exchanges, just to name a few.
There was no definite long-term adverse effects to ultrasound exposed children on new studies in the 1980s and 90s. In 1982 and reiterated in 1997, a statement was made by the Bioeffects Committee of the AIUM:
No confirmed biological effects on patients or instrument operators caused by exposure at intensities typical of present diagnostic ultrasound instruments have ever been reported. Although the possibility exists that such biological effects may be identified in the future, current data indicate that the benefits to patients of the prudent use of diagnostic ultrasound outweigh the risks, if any, that may be present. "
The World Federation, European Federation and the Australasian Society also agreed to this. And the fore mentioned researches and statements were major influences for the proliferation of the use of ultrasound scanning especially in Obstetrics.
But still, there are those who continue to question the safety of these devices. There are no known facts regarding what really happens during ultrasound waves influences on the growing tissues of fetuses. There are no definite evidences of how exactly these waves can affect a growing cell and whether it can cause damages. And although they made sure that the human ear cannot perceive a high-frequency sound, the fetus's reaction to the waves still remains unaccounted for.
On an article by J. Garcia, MSc, et.al., entitled Women's Views of Pregnancy Ultrasound: A systemic review, they found out that this diagnostic tool is very attractive to women and their families. Reports on early concerns about its safety were rare, they often lack information about the use of different types and procedure of ultrasound scanning, and the strong appeal on the use of this device plays a major role to the fact that expectant mothers are often unprepared for the adverse findings. The researches then concluded that:
Despite the highly varied study designs and contexts for the research included, this review provided useful information about women's views of pregnancy ultrasound. One key finding for clinicians was the need for all staff, women, and partners to be well informed about the specific purposes of ultrasound scans and what they can and cannot achieve. (BIRTH 29:4 December 2002)
Imagine that a mother can have a rare of her baby's first portrait. This has been discouraged by medical groups but the businesses are pursuing in giving the mothers and their families a glimpse inside the womb.
Truly, ultrasound technology made a huge impact in our society and in different aspects of human's life. In a journal on Genetic Counseling, they have found out that study of prenatal diagnosis patients who underwent ultrasound examinations and lost their pregnancies through miscarriage or elective terminations, majority of mothers still felt that seeing the ultrasound image of their unborn child have influenced their relationship to the fetus and helped them cope with pregnancy loss.
Politics was also affected by this technology. In Columbia, S.C., there have been calls of emotional blackmail from their opponent. They call for the review of ultrasound images of the fetuses of women seeking abortion. This legislation was supported by Gov. Mark Sanford, a Republican. But is must still be voted upon by the House before it proceeds to the Senate, where its sponsors expect it to pass with some exemptions. In some states in the U.S. there are ultrasound images made available to women before conducting an abortion. In South Carolina however, viewing these pictures are required before the procedure.
In conclusion, Ultrasound scanning underwent many years in development and still continues to improve, but not all people may accept this technology, some because of fear and others doubt. Ultrasound as a diagnostic tool has helped the medical doctors with their practice. Much still remains to be discovered, learned, developed and accepted regarding Ultrasound scanning. This may soon lead to better understanding of this technology and better use in the medical field in the coming years.