By COLlive reporter
U.S. medical experts are warning that frequent fetal-ultrasound procedures in low-risk pregnancies aren’t medically justified, the Wall Street Journal reported.
“The message needs to be gotten out,” says Phillip Bendick, an ultrasound scientist and editor of the Journal of Diagnostic Medical Sonography. “The public needs to be made aware that if you’re pregnant, you don’t drink alcohol, and you don’t smoke you don’t need to have an ultrasound at every doctor’s visit.”
While fetal ultrasound in humans has never been shown to cause harm, nearly all research supporting its safety was conducted using equipment made before 1992, when the procedure produced about one-eighth the acoustic energy it is allowed to emit today and when fetal-ultrasound scanning was far less frequent, the newspaper said.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration stated in December 2014: “Ultrasound can heat tissues slightly, and in some cases, it can also produce very small bubbles (cavitation) in some tissues,” adding that “the long-term effects of tissue heating and cavitation are not known.”
Rabbi Leibel Groner, who served as the Rebbe‘s personal secretary for 40 years, wasn’t surprised to hear about the recent medical statements, as this is an issue he has been closely tracking for years now.
Speaking to COLlive.com last week before leaving to Israel, Rabbi Groner stated the Rebbe’s opinion in a clear manner: “The Rebbe called ultrasound a tranquilizer for a doctor to sleep quietly at night.”
“The Rebbe was totally opposed to ultrasounds,” he added. “The Rebbe saw it as a sakana gedola (great danger to the fetus). I have it in handwriting from the Rebbe and from what the Rebbe told me.”
In fact, Rabbi Groner remembers an article published in the New York Times over 30 years ago with the recommendation to pregnant women “Do not rush into ultrasound.”
“The Rebbe showed me the article and said אז איך זאג פאלגט מען נישט. ווייל עס שטייט אין ‘ניו יורק טיימס’ וועט מען פאלגן.” (=When I say, they don’t listen. Because it’s written in the New York Times, they will listen).
In 2014, use of ultrasound scans averaged 5.2 per delivery — up 92 percent from 2004, according to an analysis of data compiled for the Journal.
A joint statement in May 2014 from several medical societies, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, calls for one or two ultrasounds in low-risk, complication-free pregnancies.
“Ultrasonogram should be used only when clinically indicated, for the shortest amount of time,” the statement said, referring to ultrasound scans, “and with the lowest level of acoustic energy compatible with an accurate diagnosis.”
Needless to say that each pregnancy should be judged as a case-by-case evaluation with a Rav who is competent in this field in consultation with a doctor, and perhaps specifically a Rofeh Yedid.