Everything Pregnancy

Should You Avoid "Keepsake" Ultrasounds? The FDA Says...

Twins ultrasound
Because I was expecting twins, my pregnancy was automatically labeled "high risk." And as such, I had about a gazillian ultrasounds. Like most parents-to-be, my husband and I looked forward to these doctor visits as a chance to see our babies growing inside — and as a way to bring home another cute fridge pic too! (That's an image from our 12-week visit.)

Ultrasound images are super common, of course, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says they're completely OK when prescribed by a doctor. But the agency also now specifies explicitly that ultrasounds should only be used when recommended by a doctor—and not just to generate keepsake images or videos.

"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," says FDA biomedical engingeer Shahram Vaezy in a report on the agency's website. "Ultrasound can heat tissues slightly, and in some cases, it can also produce very small bubbles (cavitation) in some tissues."

Fetal keepsake videos are especially controversial because they may be done over a long period of time (as much as an hour), and they provide only the souvenir and not any medical benefit—it's strictly a commercial pursuit.

The agency says that the long-term effects of tissue heating and cavitation are unknown—and that's why ultrasounds should not be performed frivolously.

Tell us: Did you (or would you) have any keepsake ultrasound images made?

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Alesandra Dubin is a new twin mom, as well as a Los Angeles-based writer and the founder of home and travel blog Homebody in Motion. Follow her on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

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Photo courtesy of Alesandra Dubin