Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Are abdominal ultrasounds safe while pregnant? "
How safe is it to have an abdominal ultrasound while you're pregnant? My OBGYN wants to do this with me, and she assures me it's completely normal. But doesn't radiation build up in the body over time? And isn't a developing fetus more sensitive to radiation than even adults?
Being concerned about exposing the growing baby to unnecessary radiation is a very important concern. As you know, radiation can cause growth problems and birth defects in developing babies. Fortunately ultrasounds, which are used as the primary form of imaging technique during pregnancy, are used principally because they do not use any radiation at all! The ultrasound works by emitting sound waves like a sonar in a ship. These sounds waves do not carry any risk to the developing baby at all. On the other hand, various imaging techniques that do involve radiation include simple x-rays and computed tomography (CT scan). These techniques are generally avoided in pregnancy unless there is a very important indicated (such as the life of the mother) that merits their use despite their risks to the baby. As always the management of your prenatal care is best done in collaboration with your OB / GYN doctor. Setting up an office visit to discuss your concerns is highly advised.
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