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Is Detecting Problems Causing More?

Filed Under: Baby and Child Health,Women's Health at 8:49 am | By: Susan Coyle, Senior Editor
Ultrasound - 12 WeeksNot too long ago, the outcome of a pregnancy was determined post-birth. If the infant was born healthy and hearty, all parties were thrilled. If the baby had medical problems, well, nothing could have been done prior. You had to cope with it as the child developed, out of the womb. Today, that’s not the case. Advancing medical technology has allowed us to closely monitor the wellbeing of mother and child throughout all stages of pregnancy. We can determine the child’s gender, look for abnormalities and head off complications, all thanks to science. It is a godsend, but is it one we’re relying on too much?

In the past ten years, the number of imaging scans performed on pregnant women has increased by 121 percent.  If this included only ultrasounds (a procedure that exposes the patient to no ionizing radiation) or had increased in conjunction with the number of deliveries, there would be no cause for concern. However, it did neither. Births are up by only seven percent, and the tests performed range from CT scans to nuclear medicine scans and x-rays.  CT scans alone, the highest source of radiation, have risen by 25 percent a year. Fetuses are being exposed to a level of radiation that could hinder development on a startlingly frequent basis.

You have to consider all of your options before you have one of these tests done. In some cases, they may be the best method – the only way to confirm the presence of a blood clot, tumor or internal bleeding.  But in other cases they may not be. There could be an alternative way to make a diagnosis or determine treatment. If there is, choose it. Your child will be exposed to plenty of chemicals and radiation throughout his life. Don’t start the process before he is even born.

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