Can Ultrasounds Cause Autism Spectrum Disorder?

What is ultrasound?

Ultrasound is a type of imaging that uses high-frequency sound waves to scan body organs and structures. Health care professionals can view the heart, kidneys, and other organs using ultrasound technology. Doctors use ultrasound during pregnancy to view the fetus.

What causes autism?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) refers to a wide range of conditions identified by challenges with a social communication disorder. It impacts the nervous system and affects an individual’s overall cognitive, and physical health.

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The exact cause of this syndrome is not yet known. But still research found some causes of autism spectrum disorder described as:

  • genetic mutations
  • fragile X syndrome and other genetic disorders
  • low birth weight
  • metabolic imbalances
  • exposure to environmental toxins
  • a history of viral infections
  • fetal exposure to medications like thalidomide

How ultrasound causes autism?

As we have discussed what is the purpose of ultrasound technology? Some of the teratogenic agents increase the autism risk and open a window of vulnerability. Ultrasound scans use sound waves that penetrate mothers’ bodies. Then it collects the waves which bounce back and finally forms a picture of fetal tissues. During this process, the waves start heating up the tissue through which they travel.

Dr. Jodi Abbott was an obstetrics and gynecology specialist at Boston Medical Center and gave a new study. He analyzed whether ultrasound scans can cause autism and finally gave evidence that they don’t. Women undergoing more ultrasound scans, or longer scans were not likely to have children with autism as per this new study and research.

Scientists suspect that autism is caused by many factors in many cases. Prenatal ultrasounds(ultrasound scan pregnancy) have become more powerful to be one of those factors.

Why women undergo ultrasound?

Most of the women look for multiple ultrasounds. The reason is that this technology can catch potentially all the fatal abnormalities such as a heart defect. This helps in the early fixing of disorders in babies and mothers to avoid any harmful impact on health in the near future. Some high-risk pregnancies often require more than one pregnancy ultrasound.

These ultrasound scans are not so effective to predict and analyze the intrauterine growth restriction. Moms with chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, lupus might require more ultrasound scanning.

How many ultrasounds during pregnancy is safe?

According to the ACOG, it is advisable for a pregnant woman to have 2 scans at 12 weeks and 18 weeks. This is to determine whether the pregnancy is feasible or not. It will also screen the health of the baby and its anatomy as well. Thus, it is advisable to have only one to two scans unless strictly instructed by your gynecologist. The first pregnancy ultrasound is much safer than further ultrasound scans.

What should pregnant women know about ultrasound?

Experts believe that many factors can potentially contribute to the development of ASD, there has been an increase in the prevailing conditions in recent decades.

The Autism and Development Disabilities Center for Healthline said, “There is growing evidence that ASD is often generated by a combination of genetic disturbances and environmental factors.”

In the meantime, it encourages pregnant patients to seek support from an obstetrician who can provide prenatal care and consultation.

As a regular part of that care, maternity and gynecology should encourage patients to undergo at least standard ultrasound examination during pregnancy.

“It is very useful to get an accurate dating of pregnancy, for the number of fetuses, to seek the normal growth of the fetus, and to see abnormalities in the fetus,” by the expert.

Ultrasound examination should only be done when prescribed as medically.

Under the medical principle, the professional conducting the scan should use the minimum ultrasound energy required for the least amount of time necessary to obtain diagnostic images.


It is typical to directly and clearly define ultrasound side effects on autism. Yet ultrasound links with the functional processes considering in the disturbance to ASD patients. However, the increased exposure to ultrasound may be linked to the rising rate of autism, especially in pregnant mothers.

Also, undergoing multiple ultrasounds during pregnancy may cause long-lasting harm to the developing fetus. The research found the detection of autism associated with a parallel increase in the use of obstetric ultrasound over the last 20 years.

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