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Wednesday 26th October 2016

Safety of 3D scans questioned

3rd February 2010

The Health Protection Agency has warned would-be parents about the number of scans they have of their unborn babies.


The organisation said they should weigh-up the possible risks of going for non-essential scans purely to get keepsake pictures of their unborn babies.

While scans to assess the baby’s health and development are necessary and safe, the HPA has raised concerns about “boutique” scanning for souvenir images.

The agency’s Advisory Group on Non-Ionising Radiation (AGNIR) looked at the available evidence for any possible health ill effects and said more research is needed to determine the long-term consequences amid unconfirmed reports suggesting possible neurological effects on the unborn child.

AGNIR found no evidence to suggest that routine ultrasound scans used for antenatal checks in hospitals negatively affected the health of babies but it was more difficult to make a judgement over the use of commercial ultrasound.

Chairman of the report, Professor Anthony Swerdlow, said: "In the light of the widespread use of ultrasound in medical practice, its increasing commercial use for 'souvenir' foetal imaging, and the unconfirmed indications of possible neurological effects on the foetus, there is a need for further research on whether there are any long-term adverse effects of diagnostic ultrasound."

The British Medical Ultrasound Society agreed with the HPA findings and has advised parents against seeking scans solely for the purpose of getting a "nice snapshot for the baby book".

The Department of Health welcomed the AGNIR report and has taken account of the review in its radiation protection research strategy.


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