Ultrasound scans linked to brain damage in babies
By Robert Matthews, Science Correspondent12:01AM GMT 09 Dec 2001
EVIDENCE suggesting that ultrasound scans on pregnant women cause brain damage in their unborn babies has been uncovered by scientists.
In the most comprehensive study yet on the effect of the scanning, doctors have found that men born to mothers who underwent scanning were more likely to show signs of subtle brain damage.
The implications of the study are to be raised at an international meeting of scientists being held this week in Edinburgh. There have been calls for urgent further research.
During the 1990s, a number of studies hinted that ultrasound scanning affected unborn babies. Research has suggested that subtle brain damage can cause people who ought genetically to be right-handed to become left-handed. In addition, these people face a higher risk of conditions ranging from learning difficulties to epilepsy.
Now a team of Swedish scientists has confirmed the earlier reports on the effects of ultrasound with the most compelling evidence yet that unborn babies are affected by the scanning. They compared almost 7,000 men whose mothers underwent scanning in the 1970s with 170,000 men whose mothers did not, looking for differences in the rates of left- and right-handedness.