Baby ultrasounds use high-frequency sound waves to look inside the womb, and sometimes they’re perfectly necessary to check up on the size of a growing baby or make sure a fetus is breathing and moving regularly or to help diagnose some disabilities. However, for many parents, extra unnecessary ultrasounds have become a norm for the purpose of having a keepsake image of an unborn baby — and it’s these ultrasounds that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises against. In a recently updated statement the FDA notes that they “strongly discourage” the use of fetal ultrasound imaging and Doppler fetal ultrasound heartbeat monitors unless using either is medically necessary and administered by a trained health care professional. While it has been suggested that keepsake images and videos, taken during ultrasounds, may help promote parent-baby bonding, the FDA says that the possible risks of extra ultrasounds aren’t worth it. Thus far, ultrasound hasn’t been shown to cause any major harm to developing fetuses, but the potential for harm is present as FDA biomedical engineer Shahram Vaezy, tells Today, ““Ultrasound can heat tissues slightly, and in some cases, it can also produce very small bubbles (cavitation) in some tissues.” Because ultrasound procedures may have long-term effects we’re not yet aware of, the FDA now officially recommends that scans be done only when medically necessary.

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