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Go easy on the ultrasounds

Go easy on the ultrasounds

Ultrasound disrupts brain development of unborn mice, which could mean it could also affect human fetuses.

Washington: Ultrasound disrupts the brain development of unborn mice, US researchers said in a study published on Monday that adds to growing evidence that too many ultrasound scans could also affect human fetuses.

Prolonged ultrasound scans of the brains of fetal mice interfered with a process known as neuronal migration in which neurons move from one place to another, the team at Yale University in Connecticut reported.

"Proper migration of neurons during development is essential for normal development of the cerebral cortex and its function," chair of the Department of Neurobiology at Yale, Dr Pasko Rakic, said in a statement.

"We have observed that a small but significant number of neurons in the mouse embryonic brain do not migrate to their proper positions in the cerebral cortex following prolonged and frequent exposure to ultrasound," he said.

Writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Rakic's team said the findings do not necessarily mean that ultrasound of human fetuses is dangerous but they said doctors and pregnant mothers should probably keep the scans to a minimum.

The American College of Radiology and the US Food and Drug Administration currently recommend that women only get ultrasounds when medically needed and not just for fun or out of curiosity.

first published:August 09, 2006, 15:37 IST