Ginnie Graham: Throwing ultrasound party may be bad idea
BY GINNIE GRAHAM World Staff Writer
Saturday, January 05, 2013
1/05/13 at 4:00 AM
For a party to view a fetus, what is the appropriate gift?
My suggestion is to ditch the wine and offer an appetizer to fit the theme, maybe stuffed mushrooms or pigs in a blanket.
That's not such a far-fetched question considering the new trend among pregnant women of hosting ultrasound parties.
Technology once reserved for a doctor's office strictly for medical reasons has become portable enough to enter our homes.
Party activity: Several private companies selling ultrasound services have sprung up and include baby showers or viewing parties.
Costs run anywhere between $250 and $375, depending on geography.
This means that after the games of eating baby food blindfolded or guessing the mother's belly size, everyone gathers around a screen for a look into the womb.
It could be a way for family and friends to find out the gender together.
It could also be uncomfortable for guests not used to or wanting this kind of intimacy.
Medical concerns: Most companies are clear they are non-diagnostic, meaning the images are not used for finding potential medical problems.
Still, using ultrasound for non-medical use draws concern from doctors.
"It's the only medical diagnostic test that people can use now for entertainment," said Dr. Michael Gardner, chairman of the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa School of Community Medicine Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
"It can be a special experience for her, the couple and some of the more close family members even when everything is normal. But it's a bad idea."
For starters, there isn't quality control among the companies, especially with staff, he said.
"I've personally had people who had those ultrasounds and later discovered the baby had a significant birth defect. The mom is devastated and angry because it wasn't found in the social ultrasound. But, you don't have people competent doing that."
Also, what if something is detected? What happens if a heartbeat is missing?
"If a major, huge anomaly is seen, how is that dealt with at a party?" Gardner said. "If you are at someone's home and a child had an obvious birth defect, what is the emotional toll and where is the immediate counseling?"
As far as safety, Gardner said "repeated, long-term exposure" to ultrasound has been associated with a decrease in newborn hearing.
It would be like having too much of a good thing, like water or oxygen, he said.
"There is a limit to how much ultrasound you should have and not be done frivolously," he said.
Serious decision: Having been the excited, expectant mother, it's hard to take a step back.
There is a tendency to over-share or encroach on a person's comfort zone with uterus and baby talk.
Medical ultrasound technology is fascinating in showing details such as a heart's chambers, brain activity or measurements of bones.
The private companies offer three- or four-dimensional images that look like a fully developed child.
But, these are still developing babies.
With so much feel-good marketing, doctors still need to be consulted and these procedures should be taken seriously.
Not all things have to be shared so publicly.
Original Print Headline: Ultrasound party may not be the best idea