Although autism severity rose due to the ultrasounds conducted in the first trimester, there was no further risk in later ultrasound scans.
A new study has looked into the relationship between ultrasound scans in the first trimester of pregnancy and the severity of autism symptoms in the fetus of those genetically predisposed to the condition.
A team of researchers from the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Research Institute looked at data from Simon’s Simplex Collection autism genetic repository which contains samples from 2,644 families who have a child with ASD and the data revealed there could be a link between exposure to diagnostic ultrasound.
“Where does this disorder develop from? How do kids get autism? And the second question is why are kids with autism so different from each other? This study really looks at the second question. Within kids with autism, what are some of the factors that may result in a child having a good outcome or higher IQ or better language or less severity versus a child who maybe takes more of a hit and continues to struggle throughout their lifespan?” explained lead author Sara Webb, University of Washington Medicine researcher in psychiatry and behavioral sciences.
The current Food and Drug Administration guidelines says that diagnostic ultrasounds in the first trimester of pregnancy should only be implicated in extreme medical necessity and the latest study now backs this up.
While it is still unknown why the ultrasound procedure affects the fetus, the study will help to understand this further. They have so far found that there are no effects when the ultrasound is performed in later stages of the pregnancy.
“If we can figure out this information in any other way, I would go with that,” Webb said. “It’s always worth considering that when we do medical procedures, there are great benefits but also risk.”
Details of the study were published in Autism Research.