We All Know ‘Keepsake’ Ultrasounds Are Dumb, But The FDA Says They May Be Dangerous Too

By  | 

ultrasound photo

You may have heard of “keepsake” ultrasound facilities- the ones that allow you to have a whole party of friends and family come to see your little one while he or she is still inside of you. These facilities have become quite popular in recent years as has the trend of “prenatal portraits”, a phrase that makes vomit chunks come up. What in the world happened to just waiting until a baby is born? Are we really here as a society? Where we can’t wait another four or five months to start shoving a camera in our baby’s face? As you can see, I already think these things are stupid so I got a bit of smug satisfaction seeing that the FDA agrees. From Huffington Post:

This week, the group issued a revised consumer update discouraging the use of fetal ultrasounds and heartbeat monitors to create “keepsake images” and videos, emphasizing that ultrasounds should be performed only when there is a medical need — and under the supervision of appropriately trained medical professionals.

“Although there is a lack of evidence of any harm due to ultrasound imaging and heartbeat monitors, prudent use of these devices by trained health care providers is important,” Shahram Vaezy, an FDA biomedical engineer, said in the update. “Ultrasound can heat tissues slightly, and in some cases, it can also produce very small bubbles (cavitation) in some tissues.”

BOOM! There you go. No one needs small bubbles in the tissue, right? Ok, I will admit- this doesn’t sound all that dangerous and I’m sure one extra ultrasound is not going to cause most pregnant women any problems. My concerns health-wise center more around the fact that it might not be a trained medical professional conducting the ultrasound. And what if you see something on the screen that doesn’t look quite right on a Saturday afternoon whilst surrounded by friends and family? That sounds pretty stressful to me. I am also of the school of thought that we are all in the habit of getting everything immediately. We wait for nothing in most areas of our increasingly digital lives and I guess peeping on our gestating fetuses is no exception. I suppose there is little harm in it but the idea of a couple inviting several people to come have a look at the mother’s innards in real time is just a bit weird to me. I am also one who would never consider posting an ultrasound photo on Facebook so I take my opinion with a grain of salt. I tend to err on the side of privacy and that some things should still be sacred.

That said, the FDA is not the only organization discouraging these ultrasounds for funsies:

The American Institute of Ultrasound In Medicine, for example, acknowledged what it sees as growing pressure from patients for ultrasounds in order to boost bonding and provide reassurance, and called for “responsible” use of diagnostic fetal imaging by trained professionals — a statement endorsed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Does it really help a parent “bond” to see a blurry image of their not-totally-gestated alien baby on the screen? Or is it just another gimmick sold to pregnant women to get them to spend money? Another artificial “milestone” for them to obsess over, like stupid gender reveal parties. I knew a woman at my previous job who agonized over getting one of these recreational ultrasounds and ended up driving to a facility over two hours away at only 17 weeks pregnant because she didn’t want to wait another two weeks to find out the gender at her anatomy scan. She spent a few hundred dollars only to find that the tech could not discern the gender due to the baby’s position. Sounds like a prudent decision, right?

In short, obviously, you do you. If you think you need to spend a few hundred bucks to see your baby on the screen for an extra 30 minutes, then go for it- it’s a free country. But having two major medical organizations even bothering to mention this in a cautionary fashion would make me think twice. Trust me, you will see your baby plenty enough once they are born. Keep the mystery alive a little longer.

(Image: Lena Pan/Shutterstock)