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The World in Medicine
January 19, 2005

Fetal Ultrasound Safety

JAMA. 2005;293(3):286. doi:10.1001/jama.293.3.286-c

Repeated ultrasound examinations of a fetus during gestation does not appear to affect an individual’s growth and development during childhood, according to research by Australian scientists (Newnham et al. Lancet. 2004;364:2038-2044).

A randomized controlled trial published in 1993 by some of the same researchers had found a significant increase in the proportion of growth-restricted newborns exposed prenatally to ultrasound (5 times during pregnancy between 18 to 38 weeks’ gestational age) compared with newborns that had a single prenatal scan at 18 weeks. To look for longer-term differences between the two groups, the researchers performed a follow-up study in which they compared the physical and developmental growth of about 2700 children at ages 1, 2, 3, 5, and 8 years. They found that the physical size of the infants from the two groups were similar from age 1 year onward and that there were no significant differences in speech, language, behavior, and neurological development between the two groups.

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