NIEHS Forum: Autism & the Environment – Ultrasound Portion

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences of the NIH (National Institute of Health) held a virtual forum “Autism & the Environment” on April 22, 2014. The panel of 6 experts commented on the status of research into environmental causes for autism spectrum diseases.

Prenatal ultrasound as a possible cause was addressed in the last minute of the forum. It is at 55:45 on the youtube video.

This is a transcript of that portion:

Moderator: Alan, we have received several questions about the risks of ultrasounds during pregnancy. Are there any risks?

Dr. Alan Brown, Columbia University :

I would say that it’s a possibility, but that has not been well investigated. There is some evidence that there may be some slight increase in temperature as a result of ultrasound. And during pregnancy because it’s a vulnerable period we can’t simply discount it.

But I would say that many more studies need to be done. Those are very difficult studies to do, however, because ultrasound is so common. It’s almost universal in certain countries.

One suggestion made is that one can look at different frequencies emitted and energies emitted by different ultrasounds and see if there is any correlation between that and autism, but those would be very difficult studies to do.

It has gained a lot of traction in the population because of some people who are passionate about it, and I wouldn’t say it shouldn’t be studied. But there really is no clear evidence.

And my current view is that ultrasound still does far more good than it does harm.