Key point: FDA warns consumers that non-medical use of doppler ultrasound heartbeat monitors risks harming the fetus.

FDA Consumer Alert: Doppler Ultrasound Heartbeat Monitors

Similar concerns surround the OTC sale of Doppler ultrasound heartbeat monitors. These devices, which people use to listen to the heartbeat of a fetus, are currently marketed legally as “prescription devices” that should only be used by or under the supervision of a health care professional.

“When the product is purchased over the counter and used without prior consultation with a health care professional, there is no oversight of how the device is used and little or no medical benefit derived from the exposure,” Phillips says. “The number of sessions or the length of a session to which a fetus is exposed is uncontrolled, thus raising the potential for harm to the fetus.”