Questions about Prenatal Ultrasound and the Alarming Increase in Autism

I'll take a break from my usual vacuous posting and Buffy quote post titles to share a repost from my friend V over at

From Midwifery Today - Questions about Prenatal Ultrasound and the Alarming Increase in Autism:

I tend to be pretty skeptical, but there's *something* to blame for the skyrocketing autism rates. And a quick skim of this article suggests that at least numbers-wise, they may be (or have been, since it ran first in 2006) on to something.

Interesting to me was the "huh" bit about could U/S be linked to the increase in birth defects involving the genitals and urinary tract? Since both my girls have some degree of vesicoureteral reflux, that little question certainly gave me pause.

Not to scare or upset anyone, I just didn't want to not pass this on. I've never been completely comfortable with U/S (which is why I never had the 3D U/S done, or any of the "glamour shots" type U/S that they do in malls and by appointment at OB offices), but never thought of it in terms of real harm.

I'll be thinking on this one (in my webbed-thought way) for awhile .. what say you?


Amanda Fowle said...

I don't know. I read this (or something similar) when I was pregnant with Elizabeth. But, get this, I had weekly or biweekly ultrasounds with her from week six until about week 10 (when I could pick up heartbeat on my little at-home doppler--which also would be blasphemy over on mdc). My doctor said she does that for her patients who have had late or multiple miscarriages, and since I had miscarried at 20 weeks just a couple of months before, I took her up on it.

My thoughts on autism is that we are just more informed and sensitive and have the language to use to describe it now that we didn't 30 years ago.

I remember a student with Asperger's Syndrome that I taught. In a conversation with his mom (while she was talking about her ex), I mentioned that Asperger's is probably somewhat common in some fields like computer engineering, though folks don't carry the diagnosis. She totally agreed and believes her ex is undiagnosed autistic.

Victoria said...

Amanda, I had a a few very early u/s with Bean (I was actually taking the drugs and prepping for another round of IVF when I conceived spontaneously, so I had a bunch of really early u/s with #1) and then the "regular" 20-ish week one, followed up by a "Level II" one that was a good 20 minutes or precise measuring and u/s banging against my teeny Bean.

I also had 2-3 late-term u/s with her because she was breech *and* I was still happily nowhere near labor on my due-date. She's definitely *not* autistic, tho she does have her happy little quirks. And some degree of vesicoureteral reflux.

Would she be the exact same person with the exact same quirks without u/s? Probably. Is it likely that there's a lot more to consider in autism than a single factor? Definitely.

Is it possible that u/s is more of an impact on a certain subset of babies? This is more where I lean, just as I believe that for some kids, vaccines can cause serious problems.

And I would agree that we're more sensitive to stuff these days, so the rate of diagnosis and numbers of cases diagnosed goes up as a result.

But, with a rate of less than 1 in 100, there's something going on in the environment that is helping the numbers grow, more than just better diagnostics, yanno?

I doubt I'd skip u/s completely if I were to, Bast forbid, be pregnant again. But I'd definitely keep it to an absolute minimum.

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