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Can you have too many ultrasounds?

Ultrasound is a wonderful tool, and it's very reassuring for mothers and fathers-to-be to be able to gaze at a video of their developing child before it is born. But can there be too much of a good thing?

A new study conducted by Dr. Pasko Rakic, chair of the Department of Neurobiology at Yale found that prolonged ultrasound scans of fetal mice brains interfered with a process known as neuronal migration in which neurons move from one place to another.

Is this bad? Well, according to Dr. Rakic, "Proper migration of neurons during development is essential for normal development of the cerebral cortex and its function."

In other words, too many ultrasounds could interfere with your unborn child's brain development.

However, Rakic went on to say that his findings do not necessarily mean that ultrasound of human fetuses is dangerous but he did recommend keeping the scans to a minimum.

Of course, ultrasound is a valuable tool because it can reveal deformities and defects before birth.

Other studies have shown that ultrasound can affect the brain, but not necessarily in a bad way. A 1993 study published in the Lancet medical journal found that babies who had ultrasounds before they were born were more likely to be left-handed.

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Another study found a possible decrease in weight in newborns who were given ultrasounds, and yet another studied found delayed speech in infants who'd had ultrasounds.

To make things even murkier, Dr. Verne Caviness of Massachusetts General Hospital says that one study showed that children who had received ultrasound exams before birth actually did better on language tests when they were older.

Ravic recommends further study of how ultrasound affects fetuses.

In the meanwhile, just to be on the safe side, it's probably sound to limit the number of ultrasounds your newborn has. The American College of Radiology and the FDA currently recommend that women only get ultrasounds when medically needed.

Prenatal Complete