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A potentially dangerous keepsake

Mar 11, 2015 02:00PM ● By Cate Reynolds
Andy Warhol’s 15 minutes of fame prediction seems to come to mind nearly every day lately. Celebrities are created and destroyed in record time. And they all need to be documented. Cell phones must be perpetually raised and at the ready to capture all our fellow superstars. The irony that we may miss out on actual life while trying to record the events around us seems to elude most people.

This obsession to chronicle has even caught the attention of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. They recently issued a statement advising people to use caution when it comes to fetal medical imaging—referring to the practice as “keepsake images.”

The FDA’s statement is worth repeating here: Fetal ultrasound imaging provides real-time images of the fetus. Doppler fetal ultrasound heartbeat monitors are hand-held ultrasound devices that let you listen to the heartbeat of the fetus. Both are prescription devices designed to be used by trained healthcare professionals. They are not intended for over-the-counter (OTC) sale or use, and the FDA strongly discourages images and videos.

The statement continues: Ultrasound can heat tissues slightly, and in some cases, it can also produce very small bubbles (cavitation) in some tissue. The long-term effects of tissue heating and cavitation are not known. Therefore, ultrasound scans should be done only when there is a medical need, based on a prescription, and performed by appropriately trained operators.

Remember: that little superstar of yours will make an appearance soon enough and you will be able to exercise your parental paparazzi rights with abandon.

--Sarah Hagerty
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