Ultrasound And Fetal Dopplers for Pets: What You Need to Know

Ultrasound is a procedure used by a veterinarian to confirm conception and to count the number of puppies a dog is carrying.  Instead of using ionizing radiation, ultrasound uses non-ionizing radiation, which may render it less harmful than the ionizing, however, that is not yet known.  Medical personnel choose to refer to ultrasound as high frequency sound waves, rather than radiation, because it sounds less dangerous.  The high-frequency sound waves transmitted from the device are well above the audible range.  For example, sound is between 20-20,000 cycles per hertz, AM radio stations transmit between 530-1630 kilohertz (sound ends at 20 kilohertz), and ultrasound directed at an unborn baby uses between 2-4 mega-hertz (million cycles per second).  These waves are directed into the pregnant dog’s womb, where they rebound from surface structures and produce “echoes,” that are then displayed and recorded on a screen.

“There is not one single controlled study which proves ultrasound is safe to use on the unborn fetus, animal or human.”  Fetal Effects of Ultrasound, by Jean Harper and Doris Haire, CNN

Ultrasound scans are also used to detect fetal abnormalities, confirm fetal presentations, investigate vaginal bleeding, detect pelvic abnormalities, and as an adjunct to certain procedures.

According to a CNN investigation produced by Jean Harper and narrated by Doris Haire, titled Fetal Effects of Ultrasound, there is not one single controlled study which proves ultrasound is safe to use on the unborn fetus, animal or human. Dr. Arthur Bloom, renown geneticist at Columbia University, says “Potentially it (ultrasound) can produce damage to the genetic material.  Some of these early studies are suggesting that there is in fact damage induced by diagnostic ultrasound. So our concern is growing.  If it is in fact a mutagen, it would also …  raise the question as to whether or not it is a cancer causing agent, because a very high percentage of agents that are mutagenic are also carcinogenic. We’re not suggesting that there is a major effect of ultrasound in terms of doubling the rate of birth defects, there may be a low level affect there that’s increasing the rate of congenital malformations that we may never be able to detect on clinical grounds.”

Dr. Bloom suggests “We should avoid routine ultrasound examinations because we’re beginning to see signs of danger.  Warning signs, that in the past predicted medical disaster.”  Some of these signs include:

  • Genetic damage to cells in test tubes
  • Ultrasound babies exposed to ultrasound weigh less at birth than those not exposed
  • Slowed growth patterns
  • Reflux abnormalities

Doctor Doreen Lebuskind, a radiologist at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, studied the effect of ultrasound on human tissue cells.  In her research, she observed abnormal changes in the look and behavior of the cells.  Changes she says that look the same as cells exposed to 29 rads of ionizing radiation, or X-rays.  She says that this is equal to approximately 250 chest X-rays.

Studies of ultrasound done on animals show the following effects:

  • Chromosome changes
  • Cranial and facial malformations
  • Small offspring
  • DNA changes
  • Jaundice
  • Liver cell changes
  • Brain enzyme changes
  • Delayed post-natal grasp reflex
  • EEG changes
  • Increased emotional reactivity
  • Delay in neuromuscular development
  • Reduction in immunoglobulin antibodies
  • Impaired immune system

CNN was shown normal cells through a microscope, before they were exposed to ultrasound radiation. They were described as growing apart (not stuck together), in neat rows, and move in a uniform fashion.  After exposure to ultrasound, they became a tangled mass, growing wildly and were literally all over each other.  Other normal cells, with smooth edges, were moving in a clear direction.  When exposed to ultrasound one hundred percent of them became distorted.

In regard to cell changes, Dr. Lebuskind said “Things are happening (to the cells), they’re happening to the DNA of these cells, they’re happening to the behavior, they’re beginning to grow in a funny way…  in some cases they are becoming tumor cells.  There are some long-lived effects on the DNA of the cells, on the behavior of the cells, and on the cell growth that persist for many, many generations after a single exposure.”  According to Dr. Bloom, “If a chemical were doing that, we would call it a mutagen.”  

The FDA will not commit itself to say they believe ultrasound scans are safe to use on the unborn baby.    Especially after they followed a study of 2000 children in the Denver area, half of which were exposed to ultrasound radiation, and found conclusively that children exposed to this type of radiation were lower in birth weight than those not exposed.  Doctor Bloom believes this is a serious cause for alarm because it is an indication that ultrasound radiation slows down the normal growth rate and maturation of cells.  “Clearly that is a very undesirable effect.”  What isn’t yet known is, just how long (months, years?) this growth-retarding effect is going to affect the child’s life.  And will it effect the future generations of him or her?

In the 1990s, other ultrasound studies touched on the possibility that there may be link with ultrasound radiation and a type of brain damage that would cause a child who would have been right handed, to become left handed. These babies also appeared to have a greater risk of other health issues, ranging from learning difficulties to epilepsy.

Because ultrasound devices use high frequency sound waves, there is a concern they may damage the baby’s ears, or cause later sensitivity to water and sound.   They have also been associated with miscarriage, reoccurring ear infections, and intestinal damage.  When the intestines are damaged, problems with digestion and infant “reflux” may result.  When a person, whether child or adult, is unable to make enzymes sufficiently, the body becomes vulnerable to many types of imbalances, including allergies, bacterial infections, abnormal cell growth, organ and glandular disorders, etc.  Also, when food is improperly digested, allergic reactions can develop to many types of foods, including natural, healthy foods.

Other concerns surfacing about ultrasounds and dopplers is the connection to ADD, ADHD, and autism.   It is interesting to note that seven of the most common health complaints among infants and young children in our country in the past 20 years, may all be linked to ultrasound radiation exposure:  Ear problems, reflux, ADD, ADHD, autism, slow or retarded growth patterns, and cancer.


(provided by Healther Doak, CBP)

  1. Ultrasounds linked to brain damage: http://educate-yourself.org/cn/2001/ultrasoundandbraindamage19dec01.shtml
  2. How ultrasounds work: http://www.howstuffworks.com/ultrasound4.htm
  3. The dangers of prenatal ultrasound, Journal of Nurse Midwifery, July-August 1984:  http://www.unhinderedliving.com/pultra.html
  4. Ultrasounds may harm the unborn: http://www.compleatmother.com/ultrasound_danger.htm
  5. Ultrasound research lab: http://www.mayo.edu/ultrasound/news/03.html
  6. Ultrasound:  http://www.midwiferytoday.com/articles/ultrasound.asp, http://www.birthlove.com/free/ultrasound.html, http://www.gentlebirth.org/archives/preScreen.html  
  7. General information about concerns: http://www.aimsusa.org/ultrasnd.htm, http://www.alternamoms.com/ultrasound.html, http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99991639 – article titled “Fetuses Can Hear Ultrasound Examinations”
  8.  Study of sonogram dangers: http://www.asrt.org/content/News/IndustryNewsBriefs/Sono/studyshows062408.asp, 
  9. http://harshrealities.info/nutrition/?p=408