Ultrasound and Autism Association, Link, or Coincidence?

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Rush Fetal and Neonatal Medicine Center, Rush University, Chicago, Illinois 60612, USA.
Journal of ultrasound in medicine: official journal of the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (Impact Factor: 1.54). 08/2012; 31(8):1261-9. DOI: 10.1097/01.ogx.0000425643.11113.40
Source: PubMed


Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) affect an estimated 1% of children in the United States. The etiology is probably multifactorial, including genetic components and exposure to infections, toxins, and other environmental factors, particularly unfavorable perinatal and neonatal conditions. There has been an increase in the frequency of diagnosis of ASDs over the last 20 years with a parallel increase in the use of obstetric diagnostic ultrasound, with prenatal ultrasound exposure mentioned as the possible main etiology for autism "epidemics." Central nervous system alterations have been described in ASDs, and certain similar changes have been described in animals after exposure to ultrasound. However, analysis of in utero exposure in humans has failed to show harmful effects in neonates or children, particularly in school performance, attention disorders, and behavioral changes. There is no independently confirmed peer-reviewed published evidence that a cause-effect relationship exists between in utero exposure to clinical ultrasound and development of ASDs in childhood. Ultrasound is a form of energy with effects in the tissues it traverses, and its use should be restricted to medical indications, by trained professionals, for as short a period and as low an intensity as compatible with accurate diagnosis.

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