Is Autism Caused By Ultrasound In The First Trimester Of Pregnancy? Here’s What Studies Say

By Samantha Finch, Parent Herald September 08, 10:32 am

A recent study claimed that autism can be caused by diagnostic ultrasound in the first three months of pregnancy. This news naturally alarmed pregnant women everywhere, but is the link between autism and ultrasounds really there?

The study, which was published recently in Autism Research by researchers from the University of Washington School of Medicine, University of Washington Bothell, and the Seattle Children's Research Institute, found that the link between ultrasounds and autism is increased when the developing child in the womb possesses gene variations associated with autism spectrum disorder or ASD. But there is no need to panic -- take note that the study's results are about first-trimester diagnostic ultrasound, which is not considered routine.

Women who undergo ultrasounds during the first trimester of pregnancy do so because they feel like worrying or some strange symptoms. This includes pelvic pain, vaginal bleeding, possible fetal anomalies, suspected ectopic pregnancy, and a potential multiple gestation pregnancy, Forbes listed. Basically, first-trimester ultrasounds are done when a woman and her doctor thinks that there's something wrong with the pregnancy.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists dictates a second-trimester ultrasound (carried out at 16 to 20 weeks of pregnancy) as the more standard clinical practice. That was also the period when the sex of the fetus can be detected via ultrasound. Authors of the study didn't report any link between autism and second- or third-trimester ultrasounds.

Past studies found no link between autism and any ultrasound done during any trimester, Forbes added. There's also no connection between ultrasound and other health conditions such as heart disease and neurological problems.

A research from the health care company Kaiser Permanente claimed that autism risk in children is higher when the kid has an older sibling with the developmental disorder. Another study, this time from a research team at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, found that consuming excessive amounts of folate and vitamin B12 during pregnancy increases autism risk of babies.

Autism spectrum disorder is 4.5 times more common among boys than among girls, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children with autism exhibit early indicators that require further evaluation by an expert.

Those early indicators include poor eye contact, when the child excessively lines up toys or objects, no smiling or social response, no response when called by name, and no babbling or pointing by age one, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke listed. Other signs are when the child lose language or social skills he/she previously learned, and when he/she doesn't speak any single words by 16 months of age or two-word phrases by two years old.

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