OMA requests ban on “entertainment”
– The Ontario Medical Association is urging the provincial government to
ban “entertainment” ultrasounds – the use of the technology for making
souvenir snapshots and videos of fetuses.
The OMA also wants the province to generally prohibit anyone from buying
or using a diagnostic imaging machine for other than medical uses, as
California did recently in reaction to Tom Cruise’s at-home ultrasound
In May 2006, the California Assembly voted to restrict the use of
ultrasound machines for personal use, approving a bill that would allow
them to be sold only to licensed professionals. Democratic Assemblyman
Ted Lieu introduced the bill after Mission: Impossible III star Tom
Cruise (pictured) bought an ultrasound machine to see images of his unborn child.
The actor’s wife, Katie Holmes, gave birth to the couple’s daughter, Suri, last April.
Some physicians are concerned that commercial ultrasounds may place
unborn babies in danger, noting that the effects of multiple ultrasound
exams on a fetus are unknown. Even though the technology makes use of
sound waves rather than ionizing radiation, sound energy can be damaging
at certain frequencies and intensities; experts believe it should be
left in the hands of trained professionals.
According to the National Post newspaper, several businesses – with
names such as UC Baby, 3DBaby and See3 D – have cropped up in recent
years offering to use ultrasound for the amusement of parents and
A typical package at one of the operations supplies a 20-minute
ultrasound session, optional gender assessment, listening to the baby’s
heartbeat, images on a CD and two 4x6 photos for $149.
“We are concerned that there are entrepreneurs out there using this as
an opportunity to make a quick dollar,” Dr. Markus Prieditis, head of
the OMA’s diagnostic imaging section, told the National Post. “They are
buying a piece of medical equipment and saying, ‘Come in and have some
baby pictures taken’ and ‘There’s no risk.’ That is a problem – and
we’re seeing more of it.”
Dr. Prieditis and his colleagues want governments to outlaw the practice
and recently convinced the medical association’s governing council to
pass a resolution to that effect. The OMA intends to discuss the issue
with provincial officials early this year.
“We don’t want to harm unborn babies,” Dr. Shia Salem, a radiologist at
Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital, told Global National news services last
May, when Tom Cruise’s ultrasound purchase made headlines. “We just
don’t know, and I think it would be irresponsible of us and say, have an
ultrasound every other week.”
“In all, I had a few extras,” said Fiona Ridley, one of many Toronto
mothers who would pay $200 for a 30-minute scan that comes complete with
an online photo gallery, a DVD with the session and between 10 and 25
pictures – depending on how ‘entertaining’ the baby is. “Probably around
six or seven. No. Eight.”
And there is no limit to the number of scans a woman can have. In one
Toronto clinic, approximately 120 sets of soon-to-be parents opt in for
the home movie experience that begins in the belly – every month. “The
ultrasound is not a toy,” Dr. Salem adds. “It’s not a camera, it’s a