A recent study was conducted that looked at typical development of children and children that exhibited symptoms of ASD (Autism spectrum disorder) to see if there was a link between ultrasounds performed during pregnancy and increased rate or risk of the child then developing autism. At Boston Medical Center, 420 patients ultrasound records were examined and the follow up of their children was compared. There was absolutely no correlation found between the number of ultrasounds performed and children’s development. Clearly, there is some worry with mothers as to how many should be performed and how long the exam should last. Luckily, Dr. Paul Rosman, a pediatric neurologist claims that they are safe and mothers should feel confident that they are not putting their baby at risk. The only item of interest that was found in this study was the fact that depth of ultrasound penetration was increased for mothers with children exhibiting ASD symptoms. This is clearly something that needs to be researched to a greater degree. There is a theory currently that this type of ultrasound injures that baby’s developing brain, which in turn causes those ASD symptoms. There are too many unknowns at this point to be sure that this is a positive correlation, such as mother’s weight and positioning of baby when the exam was performed. At this time, patients can rest assured that the benefits of having an ultrasound done during pregnancy, far outweigh the risks of the procedure.

Key Points:

  • 1As long as ultrasounds are done As Low As Reasonably Possible (ALARP), risk should be minimal to low.
  • 2ASD arises from a combination of genetic and environmental factors, so it’s about identifying risks and dealing with them.
  • 3Mothers with ASD children did have a greater depth of ultrasound penetration, but larger studies need to be done.


Experts believe that multiple factors could potentially contribute to the development of ASD, a group of conditions that has increased in prevalence in recent decades.

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