Wednesday, May 19, 2010

To Scan or Not To Scan

That is the question.

Me and the built in baby carriage went in for our follow up beta check this morning and came back with an astonishing 7018 (which is ironic because that's the year a psychic named Xena predicted I would die...) Everything seems to be going grand, great and wonderful. The Wonder Twins are doing what they're supposed to be doing and all is good.


Oh, speaking of my womb, we have a question for all you IVF bloggerinos....

Next week we are scheduled for The Big Show: The Heartbeat Ultrasound! So, here is our delicious dilemma.....first, a little anecdote.....

When I was in college, I planted some bonsai seeds. I wanted to grow bonsai plants and trim them and prune them and have people believe me zen. They would ask me questions regarding life and love and morality. I would snip-snip-snip, pause, breathe and answer in very few words and usually in the form of another question.

This never happened.

Five days after planting the seeds I grew impatient that the seedlings had not yet sprouted. On the sixth day I told myself I would give them until noon and if they hadn't shown up I was going in after them. Short story shorter, I ended up waiting two more hours before digging in with a chopstick , delicately scooping away clumps of soil until I found...........the plant, about ready to break through the surface. Perhaps another day, perhaps two and I would have had my patience rewarded. I smiled devilishly and dumped the dirt back on the sprouting sapling.

My zen dream was going to come true....

Only it never did. I killed it. I killed my baby plant. I was no wise yogi. I was Yogi Bear.

Now I stand about five days away from hearing our babies heartbeats. Thump-thump-thump (or, as the hitch hiker's heartbeat goes, thumb-thumb-thumb) and we're excited about it. In fact, we're REALLY excited about it. It's an experience all of our friends have said, "...really just brings it home". That said, I feel a little like Yogi Bear again, standing above the developing seed, holding an ultrasound wand in my hand instead of a chopstick and getting ready to start digging around in some soil that would be better off undisturbed.

I'm not worried about killing our "seeds" but what I AM just a weeee bit concerned about is autism or other neurological disorders. BUT WAIT!!! Don't write me off as a cooky hippie just yet. Let me run my case. I promise I'll make it short....

First off, here's a link to an article about an experiment a Yale laboratory did on mice. They exposed pregnant mice to an ultrasound and studied the mini-meeces brains once they were born. The study concluded that neurological disorders were present in them.

If you don't want to read the article, that's fine. It pretty much says what I just did but they sound REALLY smart. It's quite impressive, all the big words they use.

Secondly, I KNOW that everyone says "There is no conclusive evidence that suggests ultrasounds and autism are linked" and I understand that it just because there isn't proper research? "Not conclusive" means incomplete. It doesn't mean "Completed and results are negative".

Remember, "There is no conclusive evidence that links tobacco use to lung cancer".

Did you know that 30 years ago autism affected 1 / 10,000 children and today it affects 1 / 100? SOMETHING is going on. Is it ultrasounds? Is it vaccines? Is it microwaves? Plastics? Is it the internet? Did Al Gore invent autism?

I realize that the article specifies that this should not discourage pregnant women from having medically necessary ultrasounds, but the crucial wording there is "medically necessary". John and I have decided not to find out the sex of the baby/ies or undergo any genetic abnormalities testing (as it would not change the outcome of the pregnancy for us). So, is this a medical necessity ultrasound or just something of convenience and/or parental entertainment? What did they do back in the day before this new technology? (Besides smoke cigarettes and knock back a few celebratory drinks).

We've discussed our concerns with our doctor and she has assured us that there is no risk whatsoever to prenatal ultrasounds. I LOVE our doctor and trust her hugely but I can't help but think that most doctors also said bloodletting, mercury, lobotomies, radium water, Bendectin and bacon were totally harmless too - and look how well those all turned out.

ps. Bendectin is an anti-morning sickness pill that was pulled from the shelves in '83 after they discovered it was causing birth defects.

pps. Bacon is delicious.

ppss. Damn you, bacon.

Point is, science seems to change it's mind a LOT. What's great for us one minute turns out to be terrible for us 50 years later.

There's no disputing that there is a huge rise happening in autism now and I can't help but wonder if some of the neurological problems are partly cropping up because of the rise in ultrasounds. I'm NOT saying that it's ALL because of ultrasounds.........but is it a potentially contributing factor????????

So...........what are your thoughts? Does any of this make you a nervous-pervous?

Finally.....and not that I think any of you lovelies would do this......but nice and no e-fighting. This is just a friendly exchange of thoughts. There is no condemnation here no matter what your stupid, personal opinion is.


The Gimlins said...

Hooray on the 7018!

I was intrigued with your reference to ultrasounds and autism as I had not even heard of a suggested correlation between the two. I will probably go search out that article/study and read it; will probably also ask my sis, a PA, her thoughts on it. Very interesting. It would make sense, wouldn't it?

That being said, I'm not sure I would be able to pass up the chance to do an u/s at that stage. We were just so excited to see our little embryos (we found out from the 7 week u/s that only one actually attached). I recall our fertility clinic being kinda adamant about doing our 7 week u/s; we live across the state from our clinic and they even seemed concerned about us having our local OB do it instead of at the fertility clinic itself.

Good luck in deciding!

brunettebeachgirl said...

I have heard about the correlation between the two, but with Autism it seems like everything is a "factor". There was just a study published this week (you can find it on MSN) that stated that pesticides are causing austim, so who knows.

I think you need to do what you feel comfortable with, but know that if one day your child does happen to be diagnosed with autism, you will most likely have no clue what caused it, but you will still feel guilty. It's the way us parents work. : )

I say that this u/s is necessary to confirm that the pregnancy if viable, not eptopic or otherwise, so I would not shun this opportunity to check the bean(s). After that it is really up to you. I had a u/s at 8 weeks, 20 weeks (NST testing), 34 weeks b/c I was measuring behind and then at 41 weeks. At my 41 week appointment they discovered that my AFI (amniotic fluid) had dropped to 2.45 (anything below 10 is a big problem) and I was a direct admit induction about 4 minutes later. So u/s probably saved my sons life, so I really can't think it is all that bad....

Good luck on your decision!

brunettebeachgirl said...

P.S. - Yes, bacon is delicious.

Elaine VanDRiver said...

I've never thought about ultrasounds and autism. But I have heard the debate on vaccines. I have no opinion on either...yet!

But I wish you well on your scan. Looking forward to hear how it went!

Julie said...

It probably was Al Gore.

jrs said...

I have never heard of autism and ultrasound either.

I think a question you could ask your RE is, if you did get the US done would they be able to see or do anything differently than if you didn't get it done. For example, if the heart beat is there, but low, knowing that could they then intervene? things like that.

Personally, I would get the ultrasound.

kate said...

I've never heard of a link between autism and ultrasounds, but if that's true, then I should really set myself up for having autistic twins, because these babies have been ultrasounded more times than I can begin to count!

As for whether the ultrasound is medically necessary, I'd say there's a case for ensuring that your pregnancy is positioned appropriately (i.e., not ectopic as can be more common in IVF pregnancies), and to confirm how many embryos decided to stick around. But I don't know that either of those things is really "medically necessary". I'd say that you definitely want to know as early as possible if it is, in fact, twins (you'll need to eat more and take more folic acid than for a singleton pregnancy), and if there's any reason to suspect ectopic pregnancy (which it doesn't sound like there is, other than the slight increase in risk due to IVF), it would be critical to find out right away, but an ectopic would make itself apparent in other ways, and twins have been surviving just fine without early diagnosis for generations, right?

I would say that at this point (depending of course on your personality!), you enter the phase of worrying about so many different things and the way they affect your growing baby/babies. There will be thousands of things that go through your mind that make you wonder about whether you are doing the very best thing possible for the pregnancy. And in truth, you have to do what makes you comfortable. I took the tack of thinking, "If this pregnancy were to end, would I beat myself up about doing 'X' thing?" and if my answer was yes, I would do what I could to avoid it (within reason). So I avoided lunch meat, sushi, alcohol, caffeine, excessive stress, too much exercise, too little exercise, and a whole slew of other things. I decided to go ahead and take tyl.enol and benadry.l because those were deemed safe enough. And I continued taking some other prescriptions, because the benefits outweighed the risks (like allergy and asthma meds that help me keep breathing-- they aren't necessarily clearly approved for pregnancy, but the risk of serious illness were I to quit taking them made me decide to take them).

So, in short, my advice is to ask yourself whether or not the benefit outweighs the risk, and to make your decision from there. If your child/children did turn out to be autistic, would you blame it on the early ultrasound? Would you really hate yourself for choosing to have it? Alternately, if you didn't find out until much later in your pregnancy that you were expecting twins, would you feel badly for not doing everything you could to nourish them from the very beginning? I'd just determine which is the path that takes you in the most comfortable direction.

rebecca said...

I wouldn't be too worried about the ultrasound...especially if it's the only one you're likely to get during your pregnancy if you're not planning to find out the sex, but you definitely need to do what you're comfortable with & feel is right for you.
Also yes, bacon is delicious:)

Jersey Beth said...

OMG why is bacon bad??

My 2 cents- get the U/S. And eat only organic anything. I guarantee there is a study being conducted right now disputing this report. Not to say it's right or wrong, but... science is so imperfect.
Congrats and good luck!! Keep blogging!

Anonymous said...

I did a bit of searching on PubMed for any newer studies that were done with human babies, and there were a few, though none with a huge number of babies. This one looked good, basically, they haven't seen any correlation in instances of autism and instances of prenatal ultrasound. I do think it's better to avoid unnecessary ultrasounds (there are some places at malls that will do ultrasounds whenever you want them), but I agree that knowing the placement and number of embryos is an important piece of information that will impact your care right now.

Anne said...

You totally need to get the ultrasound. And eat bacon. Delicious, delicious bacon.

cainml said...

Just another thought to this: what's the difference between an ultrasound vaginal wand/probe and a pretty long man penis?! Is there a study that links prenatal sex with autism? There might be, but I'll probably not give up the sex during pregnancy (at least due to autism fears), and I'll probably not give up the ultrasounds either.

Or bacon!

Good luck with your decision and with your bean(s)!

Lizzy B. said...

Sonograms are so important for the health of your babies AND you. From checking your amniotic fluid levels to making sure your placenta is positioned correctly (placenta previa is scary business and you've gotta know if that's going to be an issue or your risk abrupting), the known benefits of the ultrasound totally outweigh the unproven risks.

That said, if you're really concerned and you feel it necessary to avoid the scan, maybe talk to your doc about holding off until the second trimester? Give the babies time to develop first if it'll ease your mind?

Mommato2miracles said...

Goodness, I don't really have any info you haven't posted. I just have personal experience, I had two very complicated pregnancies, and therefore had MANY MANY ultrasounds. (more than 15 with my son) and neither of my children are autistic. Hugs, hope this decision is easy in the end for you and your husband to make... And if you do decide to do it I can't wait to hear your reaction:-)

Anonymous said...

Mmmmmm bacon. But maybe nitrate-free bacon for now? I hadn't heard of the link between autism and u/s. My very unscientific hunch is there is some chemical in the environment causing it. I hope there is an answer soon, regardless of the cause!

Anonymous said...

Did you have a scan???? You show twins in your sidebar?????? Did I miss something?

: )


Casey said...

I am really wondering if this really affects Weight Loss. After all the doubt, there are many who do an ulta sound and scan.

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