Nonmedical Use of Ultrasound in Pregnancy: Ethical Issues, Patients' Rights and Potential Misuse

      In many countries “fetal portrait studios” and “prenatal boutiques” have sprung up offering keepsake videos and images of the unborn child to pregnant women. People with little or no formal training in ultrasound often operate these studios. Professional associations of physicians have been highly critical of these developments and demand legislation to crack down on what they see as a potentially hazardous practice that might be harming the fetus. However, it is well known that physicians' wives, daughters, in-laws and friends will receive excellent ultrasound images of the future family member and keepsake videos, albeit in a medical setting and performed by skilled and certified professionals. The ethics of reserving something that the public obviously craves for your own select group is difficult to argue. It is quite possible that in 10 years' time there will be mobile phones with built-in ultrasound transducers with which women can watch their fetus at all times during pregnancy. Until then, the medical ultrasound community should adapt to changing attitudes and expectations and accept the reality of entertainment ultrasound and do its best to regulate it.
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