Effects of frequent ultrasound during pregnancy: a randomised controlled trial.
Lancet. 1993 Oct 9;342(8876):887-91. PMID: 8105165
University Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, King Edward Memorial Hospital, Sublaco, Perth, Western Australia.
Despite widespread application of ultrasound imaging and Doppler blood flow studies, the effects of their frequent and repeated use in pregnancy have not been evaluated in controlled trials. From 2834 women with single pregnancies at 16-20 weeks gestation, 1415 were selected at random to receive ultrasound imaging and continuous-wave Doppler flow studies at 18, 24, 28, 34, and 38 weeks gestation (the intensive group) and 1419 to receive single ultrasound imaging at 18 weeks (the regular group). Outcome data was obtained from 99% of women who entered the study. The only difference between the two groups was significantly higher intrauterine growth restriction in the intensive group, when expressed both as birthweight<10th centile (relative risk 1.35; 95% confidence interval 1.09 to 1.67; p = 0.006) and birthweight<3rd centile (relative risk 1.65; 95% confidence intervals 1.09 to 2.49; p = 0.020). While it is possible that this finding was a chance effect, it is also plausible that frequent exposure to ultrasound may have influenced fetal growth. Repeated prenatal ultrasound imaging and Doppler flow examinations should be restricted to those women to whom the information is likely to be of clinical benefit.