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Jeff Sutherland

Twice the Energy with Half the Stress


William Campbell Douglass II, M.D. Daily Dose. June 4, 2002

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Mayo Clinic physician Dr. Mostafa Fatemi often wondered why unborn babies tended to flinch violently at the instant their ultra-sound portraits are taken. He found out by placing a tiny hydrophone inside a woman’s uterus during the procedure. The device registered NEARLY 100 DECIBLES-as loud as a subway train or a jet!

Fatemi says clinicians may want to aim their ultrasound probes more carefully, away from the child’s ears so as to avoid this obvious trauma. I’m not sure how they’re supposed to accomplish this, since unborn babies are encased in fluid which would make such a sound carry equally throughout the womb.

For years, I’ve been arguing that ultrasound threatens the health of a developing fetus. But the incidence of ultrasound has increased and it is now standard procedure in almost every pregnancy. Nowadays, it would be considered downright negligent not to perform it. After all, what if the little tadpole had a deformed ear lobe or something even worse, such as six toes on one foot (like Marilyn Monroe!). Under those “extreme” circumstances, the parents would certainly opt for murder-excuse me, termination of pregnancy-right? Just think, without ultrasound, they wouldn’t have known the “awful” truth…

Both of my children have hearing that’s less acute than mine. Since they were born in the 50s, I can’t blame ultrasound. I blame immunizations (and rock-n-roll). But my grandchildren are a different matter. If their childhood hearing is off only ten percent, that’s enough to cause problems that may be interpreted as “learning disabled”-a euphemism for stupidity. This small, early deficit in hearing will almost certainly lead to early presbycusis-a hearing problem associated with old age that might now happen at 40, not 70. If even one person in ten develops this disability, it will be a tragedy of immense proportions.

Ultrasound is so universal that most physicians don’t bother to question its safety. However, 40 years after its introduction, disturbing questions are being asked, while the perpetrators of this tragedy remain silent. Three independent studies in 1993 alone have cast doubt on the safety of the procedure. Lancet, the Canadian Medical Association Journal, and the New England Journal of Medicine have all sounded the alarm. At best, routine scanning makes no difference in the health and well-being of babies and, at worst, could do significant harm…

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