fetal doppler safety

Diagnostic ultrasound is one of the safest means available for obtaining the necessary information about your unborn baby (or babies). While many tests are continually conducted by manufacturers and the U.S. government, results in the past have indicated no adverse side effects.

Your caregiver keeps up-to-date on developments in this field and is well qualified to judge the risks and benefits of any medical procedure, including ultrasound examination.

*The American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM) has addressed the concerns relating to the safety of ultrasound and has issued the following statement as of March 1993: "Diagnostic ultrasound has been in use since the late 1950's." Given its known benefits and recognized efficacy for medical diagnosis, including use during human pregnancy, the AIUM herein addresses the clinical safety of such use:

"No confirmed biological effects on patients or instrument operators caused by exposure at intensities typical of present diagnostic ultrasound instruments have ever been reported. Although the possibility exists that such biological effects may be identified in the future, current data indicate that the benefits to patients of the prudent use of diagnostic ultrasound outweigh the risks, if any, that may be present."

Most manufacturers of diagnostic fetal doppler heart monitors have always made every effort to use as low an ultrasound power as practical. The level of ultrasound power emitted is not adjustable on a fetal doppler unlike that of a sonograph. Prudent use on the mother's part would include minimizing the length of time that she listens to the baby's heartbeat on each occasion.

Ultrasound Controversy

The advent and introduction of three (3D) and four (4D) dimensional imaging ultrasounds to the marketplace and the marketing of these devices by manufacturers and business' have spawned the use of sonography for entertainment purposes. Like the pharmaceutical, industry manufactures of these devices have taken to promoting their technology to the masses causing an increase in requests by patients for "bonding" baby pictures and videos. With a majority of hospitals and professional ultrasound facilities still using traditional 2D ultrasounds a new business opportunity has been created. Now many expecting parents are able to go to their local mall or shopping center for a Big Mac and an ultrasound. This has raised concern by the FDA who has been monitoring this bourgeoning business since early 1994. The FDA has issued many statements warning against the use of these "Keepsake" sonographs (ultrasounds) and has found that often these business' are not overseen by a certified physician or ultrasounds are conducted by unqualified and inexperienced lay people. The FDA feels that only certified sonographers or medical professionals with diagnostic intent should conduct imaging ultrasounds.

What the AIUM says about
2D, 3D, & 4D Ultrasound


The AIUM advocates the responsible use of diagnostic ultrasound. The AIUM strongly discourages the non-medical use of ultrasound for psychosocial or entertainment purposes. The use of either two-dimensional (2D) or three-dimensional (3D) ultrasound to only view the fetus, obtain a picture of the fetus or determine the fetal gender without a medical indication is inappropriate and contrary to responsible medical practice. Although there are no confirmed biological effects on patients caused by exposures from present diagnostic ultrasound instruments, the possibility exists that such biological effects may be identified in the future. Thus ultrasound should be used in a prudent manner to provide medical benefit to the patient.

What's the difference between
a sonograph and a fetal doppler?


It is important to understand the differences between the hand-held fetal doppler and a sonograph (2D, 3D, or 4D ultrasound). The exposure to ultrasound in sonography (which uses a 3-10mghz transducer) is much higher than that in a hand-held fetal doppler system. Fetal doppler monitors are regulated by the FDA who has set limits on its ultrasound emission. The FDA also regulates sonographs but has recently raised the level of ultrasound 8X higher than its previous standard due to the advent of the 3D and 4D machines which require higher levels to produce their results. The purpose of a hand-held fetal doppler is to find and confirm the fetal heartbeat by measuring blood flow which takes less than 10 minutes. The ever increasing amount of testing and monitoring done during a sonograph has increased the exam time to last between 20-60 minutes, exposing the fetus to longer and higher levels of ultrasound. Hand-held Fetal Dopplers are not sonographs but do use ultrasound and consideration should be taken when using any such medical device. Fetal dopplers are regulated by the FDA and have been approved for in home use with a physician's approval. Fetal doppler heartbeat monitors are diagnostic devices and should not replace consultation with a medical professional.

Fetal Doppler Facts™ - All Rights Reserved 2007