They have become a must-have for excited parents-to-be, with their amazingly detailed depiction of unborn babies in three-dimensional realism.
But souvenir ultrasound scans offering parents keepsake pictures of their child in the womb could pose neurological risks, experts warned yesterday.
While ultrasound scans to check the child's health were deemed justifiable, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) expressed concern over the rise of so-called “souvenir scanning”, when parents conduct ultrasound scans purely for the purpose of photographic mementos.
The tentative warning was issued in the wake of unconfirmed reports which suggested that such scans could pose neurological risks to unborn babies, as the beam of the ultrasound remains static over the head of the baby for a longer period than normal in order to get a sharp image.
Baby scanning is rapidly moving into the commercial sector, with parents-to-be willing to pay up to £250 for images of their unborn children. According to the sales pitches of growing numbers of non-diagnostic scanning clinics, such scans can help parents “bond” with their unborn baby.
An independent advisory group agreed that more research was required to determine the full extent of the problem and that, as of yet, there was not enough evidence to make an official judgement.
Nonetheless, the British Medical Ultrasound Society agreed with the HPA's findings, advising parents against seeking scans that were solely for the purpose of a “nice snapshot for the baby book”.