30 September 2004

--- The Wonders of Ultrasound

Consider an advertisement for expectant mothers that goes like this:

From Baby Insight

Sounds surreal to you?

Well, it's no longer science-fiction. It is real and happening, not only in obstetricians' clinics but in malls (yes, you read that right: malls!) across the US. Soon in the Philippines. Any resourceful Filipino entrepreneur will see nothing but profits once overseas franchise offers are available.

Ultrasound photography now offers an opportunity for expectant parents to see their babies' first pictures --- while still in the womb! And just like any other photo studio, options like wallet-sized pictures are available plus video footages recorded in DVD or VHS if you like.

If you want samples of how the real pictures look like, click here.

No, I am not doing this to advertise. I am just fascinated at how far technology has taken us and how entrepreneurs are making a killing out of it. Before, ultrasound for expectant mothers were for gender identification and diagnosis of possible obstetric complications, now it is BIG BUSINESS. And mothers love it.

Presently in the US, non-medical fetal photography/videography outfits like Baby Insight, Fetal Fotos, Prenatal Peek, Peek-A-Boo, and Womb With a View are mushrooming and hoping to grab a sizable portion of what Matt Evans, a lawyer and owner of Baby Insight, describes as a "still undeveloped" market. [New York Times]

The American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine, however, criticizes and objects to the use of non-medical ultrasound. They have expressed opinion that elective ultrasound might be unhealthy for the baby. But their reasoning is weak if you ask me, as evidenced by this statement: "Although there are no confirmed biological effects for patients caused by exposures from present diagnostic ultrasound instruments, the possibility exists that such biological effects may be identified in the future." [New York Times] The US Food and Drug Administration, on the other hand, has this to say: "While ultrasound has been around for many years, expectant women and their families need to know that the long-term effects of repeated ultrasound exposures on the fetus are not fully known. Ultrasound is a form of energy, and even at low levels, laboratory studies have shown it can produce physical effects in tissue, such as jarring vibrations and a rise in temperature." [The San Diego Union-Tribune]

I suggest they conduct studies to confirm any possible harmful effect.

Meanwhile, let the would-be-mothers (and fathers, too) enjoy a glimpse of their unborn blessings.

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