Skip That Keepsake Fetal Ultrasound, Says the FDA

Pregnant women should avoid "keepsake" ultrasound videos from commercial retailers as well as at-home heart monitors, according to new guidelines.

pregnant belly with fetal keepsake ultrasound Jamie Grill/Getty Images

We know how precious those first ultrasound images of your baby-to-be are. And we get wanting to see the little nugget as often as possible. But before you head out for commercial imaging at the mall or another location, you should know the FDA considers that a big no-no.

According to a new update from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), ultrasound imaging, which allows for real-time images of a fetus, as well as Doppler fetal ultrasound heartbeat monitors (that let you hear that amazing heartbeat) should only be administered by trained health care pros. So those commercial retailers offering keepsake videos and photos? Steer clear.

"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," FDA biomedical engineer Shahram Vaezy, Ph.D., says in the report. "Ultrasound can heat tissues slightly, and in some cases, it can also produce very small bubbles (cavitation) in some tissues." Because the long-term effects of these issues are unknown, the FDA asserts that ultrasounds should only be performed "when there is a medical need, based on a prescription, and performed by appropriately-trained operators."

As for the heartbeat monitors, the FDA takes the same stance.

"When the product is purchased over the counter and used without consultation with a health care professional taking care of the pregnant woman, there is no oversight of how the device is used," Vaezy adds. "Also, there is little or no medical benefit expected from the exposure. Furthermore, the number of sessions or the length of a session in scanning a fetus is uncontrolled, and that increases the potential for harm to the fetus and eventually the mother."

Don't worry: There will be plenty of time for photos once Baby arrives.

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