Baby Ultrasound: How is it done? Benefits, and Potential Risks

By | 18/07/2018
prenatal ultrasound technician

Ultrasound imaging, also known as Sonography, is a scan that uses high-frequency sound waves to create an internal view of the structures of the body.

An ultrasound scan produces pictures of the inside of the body. It’s a useful diagnostic tool that doctors can use to pinpoint the causes of pain or infection in internal organs.

Medical experts also use ultrasound imaging to monitor the growth and development of the baby inside pregnant women.

That is the test people know as “Baby Ultrasound” or “Prenatal Ultrasound.”

The Ultrasound Imaging uses a transducer to transmit high-frequency sound waves through the mother’s abdomen.

The waves produce echoes that get recorded and turned into a picture or a video of the baby.

A Baby Ultrasound can even help doctors to see the amniotic sac, placenta, and ovaries as well as possible anatomical abnormalities or congenital disabilities.

How is it done?

This procedure doesn’t require any special preparation. Most doctors only recommend wearing loose, comfortable clothing and avoid bringing jewelry.

Healthcare providers perform a Prenatal Ultrasound by applying a topical gel, which works like a conductive medium, over the mother’s belly and then using a small transducer to get an image of the baby.

More often than not, doctors perform the Ultrasound Imaging around the 14th or the 20th week of gestation. At this moment, medical experts can confirm that the placenta is healthy and monitor the baby’s growth.

They can also see the baby’s heartbeat and the movements of the body in the uterus.

On the other hand, many people like to use the Baby Ultrasound to determine the sex of the baby.

The accuracy of the test in this specific matter will depend on several factors such as the age of the baby and the equipment used for the imaging.

More often than not, clinicians are capable of examining specific signs in the ultrasound pictures to determine the gender. Some of those factors are:

  • The Girl Theory, which states that if doctors fail to find signs of a penis, people can assume the baby is a girl. It’s only a “theory” due to a clitoris and a penis being of a similar size early on in pregnancy
  • The Hamburger sign, when medical experts find female genitalia, the clitoris situated between the labial lips, they can tell the baby is a girl.
  • The Turtle Sign, it refers to the tip of the penis peeking out from behind the testicles. However, the position of the baby may hide the genitalia.

Parents should remember the fact that the traditionally used Prenatal Ultrasound is not a fool-proof method to find out a baby’s gender. In fact, even some doctors can misinterpret the images.

Benefits

Some researchers conducted studies that confirmed that a Baby Ultrasound performed early is the most accurate way to predict the due date.

This test can confirm if a mother is carrying twins or if the patient’s fertilized egg attaches itself outside of the womb, which is the primary feature of a condition known as Ectopic Pregnancy.

The early diagnosis of an Ectopic Pregnancy can help doctors to act quickly and reduce maternal complications and even prevent the condition from causing death.

Medical experts can detect other potential complications such as Placenta Previa, which consists of the attachment of the baby’s placenta to the wall near the outlet of the uterus.

Placenta Previa can increase bleeding without causing pain as well as the risk of a massive hemorrhage.

The Prenatal Ultrasound also helps to monitor the baby’s heart rate. Sometimes, this test can detect potential heart issues.

On the other hand, the Baby Ultrasound provides with a chance for the mother to strengthen her emotional bond with the baby.

Potential Risks of Prenatal Ultrasound

Several people insist that a Baby Ultrasound may have some undesirable effects on the development of a child.

No researcher had conducted a study on this regard, but some had stated some reasons for concern.

Some Ultrasound machines could heat up the human tissue above the maximum safe temperature, which could impact the development of baby’s brain when applied continuously.

This risk exists in modern versions of these devices such as the 3D/4D Ultrasounds.

In fact, they produce even more heat than traditional Ultrasound machines.

Some studies reveal that the exposure to such temperature could endanger the life of a child as well as potentially causing genetic damage and some congenital disabilities.

That is why many people recommend reducing the unborn baby’s exposure to this kind of tests.