Prenatal ultrasounds are a great idea, but for baby too?

I told you the last story to tell you a different one. My father is not a computer scientist but as a mechanical engineer and he liked to build things in his spare time in a home workshop with many tools with which he could custom make hand engineered parts built to fit whatever the project required.

As a professional mechanical engineer he worked on national defense projects for a company who contracted with the U.S. government.  He didn’t own the patents on any of his work as a employee; all rights to his inventions and collaborations remained the property of the company. Feeling proud to work in defense of your country is a reward in itself.

One of the projects he worked on in collaboration with two other engineers is still in active production. Underwater detection of submarines is performed with sound-waves, somewhat like whale’s communicating with songs that travel across oceans, or like bat’s sending out clicks and listening for the rebound in echo location. Fascinating and not my area to try to explain in more detail. The Sonar detecting equipment that my father helped invent is still in production for the defense of the nation and I am very proud of him and his work.

Since the initial invention of the sound-wave technology the same “ultrasound” technology was adapted for use to make black and white images of the interior of the body that are formed of soft tissue and can’t be viewed with an X-Ray in the way that hard bone tissue can be viewed. The ultrasound technology can be used to view organs or look for tumors and it is now regularly used to view and make images of a fetus during it’s prenatal development.

The use of ultrasound imaging for viewing babies has become almost standard as an early proof of pregnancy even though it is not necessary as lab tests checking hormonal changes are also performed.

The use of ultrasound imaging during pregnancies has become standard in the United States, however women in China may not receive an ultrasound during their pregnancies.

To skip back to the whale song momentarily — try to visualize the sound-waves of a deep long note or tone that is strong enough to travel across an ocean and now the bat clicking. The deep long note travels across the ocean from one whale to another and is heard as communication.  Or the clicks of a dolphin or a bat are sent out in long deep or shorter more rapid notes that bounces off an object and returns to be interpreted as a map or echo location. Now try to visualize the ultrasound technician holding an ultrasound device that sends long deep notes through the abdomen into the watery environment surrounding or making up the body of the baby. Sound travels well through liquid and it would be loud.

Research studies on the effects of ultrasound imaging on the expected fetus took place in China with a group of women who were requesting abortions. Other studies with animal subjects have replicated part of the results which showed that ultrasound could cause fetal cells to move out of place within the developing infant. Ultrasound waves when held in one place for a longer time and at a closer distance were found to cause actual movement of fetal cells out of their normal positions.  [The animal-based research study.]

Other risks were also noted in the research performed in China, most significantly when the imaging wand was used for ten minutes instead of three and when it was used in an internal, vaginal position instead of using a larger external sweeping motion across the expanse of the abdomen. [pubmed/11776185 ]

The other risks to the infant included increased heat especially within the bony cavity of the skull which has been studied elsewhere without any babies. A container of water was found to consistently have an increase in temperature occur after just one minute of ultrasound exposure. Specific types of ultrasound devices vary somewhat and the recommendations and cautions regarding ultrasound use in pregnancy are available in this research article: [PMC4547707 ] Avoiding use of ultrasounds during the first trimester is recommended in the article and using the lowest settings possible for patients who have a medical need for ultrasound imaging is recommended for prenatal patients in later stages of pregnancy.

Gastroschisis is a rare medical condition in a developing fetus that might require an ultrasound for diagnosis around 18-20 weeks/gestation as surgery would be needed shortly after the baby’s birth as the condition would likely be deadly otherwise. An opening in the infant’s abdomen near the umbilical cord allows some of the intestine and/or liver to be outside of the body. [cincinnatichildrens.org/gastroschisis]

Protecting the developing brain of the fetus is important throughout the pregnancy but  the greatest risk to the fetus from ultrasounds may occur during the first trimester according to a research study that took place elsewhere than China.

  • A book, 50 Human Studies, in Utero, Conducted in Modern China, Indicate Extreme Risk for Prenatal Ultrasound: A New Bibliography by Jim West, a non-Chinese scientist, is available in which the findings from the Chinese studies are summarized for English readers and a Japanese translation is now also available. The book is mentioned on the following site along with a variety of links to research on the topic of the use of ultrasounds prenatally and a potential increased risk for autism developing in the infant later in life: ultrasound-autism.org
  • A lengthy review of the book and the history of how it came to be written by Jim West is available here: whale.to/50 Human Studies.
  • An excerpt summarizes the recommendation regarding ultrasound use prenatally based on findings by a project that ultimately involved approximately 100 scientists in China and 2,700 maternal-fetal pairs, between 1988-2011 :

“From these human studies, Professor Ruo Feng, of the Acoustic Institute at Nanjing University, published guidelines in 2000:

“Commercial or educational fetal ultrasound imaging should be strictly eliminated. Ultrasound for the identification of fetal sex and fetal entertainment imaging should be strictly eliminated. For the best early pregnancy, avoid ultrasound.”

Ruo Feng, who reviewed many of the studies, stipulated that routine ultrasound be avoided. Only if there were exceptional medical indications should ultrasound be allowed, and at minimum intensity. Sessions should be very brief, no more than 3 minutes, 5 minutes at most. Multiple sessions should be avoided because hazards are cumulative. Human studies had found sensitive organs damaged at 1 minute exposure.

The Chinese studies echo and confirm the earlier, ignored and rejected, 1984 “Consensus Statement”, published by the National Institute of Health and signed by the preeminent American scientists of that era. 2″  – whale.to/50 Human Studies

  • I learned of this research on the potential risks of ultrasound when researching other topics on possible causes of autism. Many factors may be involved in the risk of autism developing, which, in combination, can lead to changes occurring in the developing fetus that aren’t obvious in the infant but which may flair up into an autoimmune-like reaction during toddler-hood if there are enough negative factors and not enough or an adequate variety of nutrients and other positive factors in the child’s home life. Genetic susceptibilities are also involved but none identified thus far have been found to lead to autism without there being additional environmental toxins or nutrient deficiencies involved.
  • Autism can be caused by the use of thalidomide prenatally. That wouldn’t be recommended as the medication can also cause physical birth defects when used during a pregnancy, however it is a medication used for some non-pregnancy related conditions and there might be an occasional unplanned pregnancy. The point is not only that planning pregnancies is recommended so that prenatal vitamins can be started months in advance (ideally a year prior to conception for least risk of autism in one study); and so that potentially toxic medications can be gradually stopped before trying to conceive; but that if autism can be caused by a medication then how could it also be a natural variation?
  • Family studies suggest that personality traits slightly similar to autistic characteristics can be more common in the family members of patients with autism. Protecting the developing fetus from ultrasounds that are too intense, or go on for too long a time causing over-heating can be a simple way to help protect the child’s true genetic potential. Higher functioning people with Asperger’s like symptoms and skills may represent the more natural variation end of the autism spectrum while patients at the least functioning end of the spectrum have likely been exposed to more variety of toxins and possibly with less nutrients available or less genetic detoxification ability available to excrete the toxins.
  • The use of ultrasounds in addition to other factors may all be adding up to increased rate of autism that has been seen in our modern culture.
  • Using equipment that was originally designed to  detect submarines to take pictures of a developing infant is a practice to use cautiously rather than allowing it to become typical for all pregnancies or to be available for non-medical reasons, possibly performed by non-medical staff who may not follow safe procedures in the pursuit of a better image. In some areas the technology has been used for photo-booth type purposes, “Have you noticed ultrasound boutiques popping up in strip malls?”. Read more: birthrelaxationkit.com/ Ultrasound Concerns for Baby’s Development.
  • If the damage can accumulate with repeated exposure as suggested by the statement by Dr. Ruo Feng then each additional ultrasound may be adding to the risk of a neurological conditions such as autism.

Ultrasound technology is currently being used medically in other ways then prenatal or soft tissue imaging. It may be used specifically as a heat treatment on sore or cramped muscles during a physical therapy session.  And still in the research phases, high frequency ultrasound waves are being used at more intense strengths to actually kill cancer cells. That would be a safer technique for the health of the surrounding tissue than using radiation on cancerous tumors. X-ray type radiation is directed at the tumor in a rotating manner so that surrounding tissue gets less rays while the tumor gets a maximum dose in order to kill the cancerous cells.

So killing cancer cells with high frequency soundwaves sounds like a great idea compared to being rotated on a table while an X-ray is directed at a tumor. Eating healthy and not getting a tumor also sounds good.

  • Having an ultrasound during the first trimester of a pregnancy doesn’t sound good to me. Disclosure – I declined any ultrasounds for both of my pregnancies. I had listened to my dad play whale songs for too many hours of my youth to want my babies to have a sound wave ray gun directed at them. My thought at the time, which research suggests was an accurate concern, was, “I don’t want to risk scrambling my baby’s brain just to see what sex it is. I’d prefer to wait and see anyway.”
  • At the time of my pregnancies, ultrasounds were still a fairly “new-fangled” invention or service which was offered as a choice rather than being expected with every single “I’m expecting a baby” announcement. Send a photo of the urine test stick instead or the results from the official lab test. Once you’ve seen one black and white fuzzy image of a blob, you’ve seen them all – you can trust me on that. Ultrasound images have become so standard they are used as proof of pregnancy for agencies that offer free services to women who are pregnant and I admired a lot of little adorable blobs — women can be very protective of their babies, no matter what they look like.

So protecting your newly conceived baby’s brain seems worth considering , not just the fuzzy image for a birth announcement.

In high risk pregnancies there may be an increased number of ultrasounds recommended, possibly just to be cautious. It is okay as a patient to ask questions about medical necessity and what is truly necessary and what is possibly being recommended to look thorough in case of a potential malpractice suit. If the ultrasound tests themselves may be increasing risk to the infant though, then how cautious is it to use them more often just because a woman’s pregnancy has some high risk factor?

It’s okay to ask questions. It’s your baby, your body, and your baby’s brain and future at risk.

  • A whale song combined with music by a musician I listened to as a child can be heard online; Whale Lullaby, with music by Paul Winter: Youtube.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

 

Dietitian Recommends less Vitamin D and Calcium

We can cure the epidemic of ill health and obesity that has seized our nation and the world. The food supply is low on some important nutrients and has too much focus on calcium. Calcium is important but health is built on a variety of essential nutrients, and clean air and water of course.
We can have health if we seek to rebuild instead of hunt for a disease to name and for a magic bullet cure. There will always be a need for acute care but we are overloading the medical system with chronic degenerative disease. Chemotherapy kills and so do corticosteroids. They are powerful drugs that are aimed at the disease but our bodies get in the way. Food that nourishes with a full range of essential nutrients in forms that can be absorbed and used can help us heal ourselves from within.
We are designed to fight cancer and to rebuild organs using our own stem cells and white blood cells but we can only do that if they are working right. White blood cells protect us by patrolling for old, pre-cancerous or infected cells. The bad cells can be mercy-killed in a process called apoptosis. We grow new skin cells every day and new intestinal cells weekly. New cells of whatever type we need can be rebuilt from our own stem cells. Any organ can be ours for the making – if we have the essential nutrients in our food supply in a mixture that we can absorb.
Our food supply isn’t providing us with the variety of nutrients that we need, in ratios that we can absorb well. Our nutrient guidelines were developed in the 1940’s to help make K-rations that could keep our soldiers strong and healthy under conditions of war.  The original work has been reviewed and modified by the Institute of Medicine. The calcium guidelines were increased in 1997 and while they have been reviewed they haven’t been changed since. The increase was based on an estimation of how much calcium might be needed for better bone absorption.
Do we have stronger bones now as a nation then we did in 1996? That is a simple question with a simple answer – no.Our nation’s diet was changed in 1997 and since then chronic illness, obesity and osteoporosis rates have been expanding quicker than our budgets or belts.
We can’t grow strong bones out of excessive calcium and vitamin D supplements. Bones do require some vitamin D and calcium but we also need magnesium, strontium, vitamin K, and water to name a few essential nutrients.
Calcium is being consumed at levels that our bodies are not able to excrete. The kidneys actively save calcium and use magnesium to remove acidic wastes and some of the excess calcium. Diuretics and alcohol use also increase magnesium losses. Magnesium is lost in sweat but many brands of electrolyte beverages don’t contain it. Our food supply is low in magnesium and high in calcium from dairy products, fortified foods, and supplements.
The dairy products available in our U.S. food supply in the year 2007 provided 716 milligrams of calcium in just 351 calories of cheese and milk per day. Many people eat more than 351 calories of dairy products daily. On average we are consuming more cheese and less milk than we did prior to 1970. Cheese is a more concentrated source of fat and calcium than liquid milk.
Toddlers (n=925) usual intakes from food, beverages, and supplements as reported in FITS 2008 provided on average 892 mg/day of calcium and 160 mg/day of magnesium.
The abnormal vitamin D levels have been misunderstood. Low lab values are linked to ill health and obesity but more of the vitamin won’t fix the underlying problem. The mega-dose is a short term fix but not a long term cure for chronic illness and cancer. It is considered safe for everyone but it is only safe for those with healthy kidney control over the activation of vitamin D to hormone D. High levels of the active hormone D can cause health problems to worsen over time, adding to chronic degeneration.
Vitamin D has two forms and two lab tests of interest, and one test is more expensive. The cheap lab test for 25 hydroxy D (Dᴣ), is what most of the research is based on. It is the inactive form of the vitamin and is available as a supplement. It is considered safe at higher doses because it is assumed that all people, not just healthy people, have very good kidney control over the activation of the vitamin to the hormone. The enzyme needed for activation to 1,25 dihydroxy D is being produced uncontrollably by inflammatory white blood cells and it has been shown to be produced by some cancer cell strains as well.
We are not deficient in vitamin D and haven’t been since milk fortification was begun. The average American’s serum 25-D levels were normal, above 20 ng/ml and Canadian’s had average levels around 24 ng/ml, also normal, from a 2009 Institute of Medicine report. An increased risk of fractures has not been observed at these levels. [4]
Lack of sunlight is not a problem either, according to the research by Dr. James Norman. He has put together a database of over 10,000 patients with hyper-para-thyroidism from around the world who live under a wide range of sunlight conditions. Their vitamin 25-D levels average 19.4 ng/ml, but their active hormone, 1-25 D levels and calcium levels are very high no matter where they live. As soon as their para-thyroid tumor is removed their bodies’ 25-D and 1-25 D balance normalize, no matter where they live.
Dr. Norman, does not recommend supplementing with vitamin D. The supplements push the patient’s lab values for 1-25 D and calcium even higher. He has multiple case examples where stroke or sudden illness occurred after vitamin D supplementation was begun by the patient’s endocrinologist. His seminar about it is on Youtube, listed under ParaThyroid TV, and is posted on my webpage.
I recently started working at an assisted living facility and many of the residents were started on high doses of vitamin D by their individual doctors about a year ago when this research was first getting popular. I read charts cover to cover – and I saw their quality of life deteriorate, their pain levels increase, and worsening of their weakness, cardiac symptoms and dementia, and one death. High doses of vitamin D may not be safe for unhealthy people.
Our public health initiatives have been successful at preventing rickets in the majority; we already won the battle against vitamin D deficiency. Many foods are now fortified with vitamin D not just milk. I met about 4000 babies in fifteen years as a WIC dietitian and only one showed early symptoms of rickets. He was exclusively breast fed and he and his mother both had severe milk protein allergies. They both took to sardines which are an excellent natural source of vitamin D, and supplements were never even needed for the little boy.
We are not vitamin D deficient but we do have a sub-population of chronically ill and obese people with depressed levels of the inactive form of the vitamin. The inactive vitamin Dᴣ is being activated at an unlimited rate in some cancer cells and by white blood cells in wound and inflammatory conditions, resulting in elevated levels of the active hormone form.
Increased levels of the active hormone cause movement of calcium and magnesium out of the bone which eventually leads to osteoporosis of the bone and calcification of everything else. It increases intestinal absorption of calcium and it can increase levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. [39] Too much cortisol can increase abdominal weight gain but it also acts like corticosteroid drugs on the immune system.
Activated hormone D leads to increased cortisol and a short term reduction in inflammatory symptoms because it kills off the overactive white blood cells. However it also kills off the healthy ones. Mega doses of vitamin D are being used in a way similar to corticosteroids. Ultimately the immune system is functioning even worse. The current increase in allergic sensitivities to foods like gluten and peanut butter is due to the over active white blood cells. If we kill off the white blood cells then we won’t get the allergic symptoms as bad but we may get more colds, skin infections, and other illnesses.
Mega-dosing with vitamin D is like paying for Prednisone, if we’re sick and for an expensive cholesterol supplement if we’re healthy. 
Vitamin D is actually a very powerful steroidal hormone based on cholesterol. The average American is making enough vitamin D from their stored cholesterol. Vitamin D is an expensive cholesterol supplement if you don’t need it.[1]  If you are worried about whether you need a supplement or currently are supplementing with vitamin D, then ask your medical provider for both lab tests, cheap and expensive, 25 hydroxy D and 1, 25 dihydroxy D.  The good news is that the combined test result comparison will serve as a biomarker to show who does have chronic inflammatory conditions – proving that fibromyalgia isn’t all in our heads.
Low levels of 25-D combined with high levels of 1,25 D is an abnormal balance that is not seen in the healthy person with good kidney control.It occurs due to the increased production of the activating enzyme in the cancer cells or infected cells. Autoimmune disease may be due to a variety of chronic infections that are not readily identifiable by today’s standard lab tests.
Excessive levels of the active vitamin D cause the bone to lose calcium and magnesium. Too much calcium can cause muscle cramps, increase pain, and can cause anxiety, irritability and headaches.
We need less calcium then we are getting on average and more magnesium. If we limit our intake to 800 mg calcium we should absorb magnesium better, but we still need about twice as much magnesium as we are currently getting. Nuts, beans, seeds and greens are all excellent sources of magnesium and so is chocolate. Just two and a half dairy servings per day, about what is recommended already, would provide adequate calcium for strong bones without overloading our intestines. Too much calcium is causing magnesium to be poorly absorbed in the intestines and to be wasted in urinary losses.
Magnesium blocks calcium channels in cell membranes and would protect the brain cells from being over-flooded with calcium and being overworked to the point of cell death. The over-excitation of the brain cells causes anxiety and irritability and may be underlying the increase in rates of bullying and violence. PMS is another name for magnesium deficiency that is associated with excessive irritiability and chocolate cravings (a good source of magnesium).
Magnesium provides power inside of the cell – fatigue is a common symptom of magnesium deficiency. Anemia and edema are early symptoms of magnesium deficiency. It is essential for the growth of mature red and white blood cells in bone marrow. It is used by over 300 enzymes and it is essential for apoptosis – the mercy killing of infected and precancerous cells. Hypertension and increased serum cholesterol and insulin are also symptoms. If I were writing the books, then Metabolic Syndrome would be called magnesium deficiency and so would pre-eclampsia.
We can heal ourselves, if we learn how to feed ourselves better and repair the food supply and nutrient guidelines.I recommend stopping the push to supplement with vitamin D and calcium and instead I would encourage trying the DASH diet plan. It was a primary education tool that I used successfully to prevent pre-eclampsia reoccurrence in high risk women. The DASH diet provides a good supply of magnesium from the Bean, Nut and Seed food group. The plan has been found helpful for weight loss as well as reducing hypertension.
I propose ten steps for turning around our epidemic of chronic illness and obesity
  1.  Look for health in Food First, treating symptoms does not restore function.
  2. Increase Magnesium in water and other electrolyte beverages. Softened water adds salt to our daily intake and sucks magnesium from our bones.
  3.  Increase magnesium rich foods. They also give us fiber that builds a healthy glycocalyx lining and stronger immune system. Beans, nuts, seeds, greens, whole grains and chocolate are good sources and there is a little in everything else.
  4. Sub-populations need to be identified and informed about their individual nutrient needs, whether increased or decreased from the average person’s to promote optimal health and quality of life.
  5. Poor intestinal absorption of magnesium is part of the problem. We can deliver nutrients from other directions. Skin lotions and Epsom salt (MgSO4) baths are low budget, low risk and very effective methods. [35, 36, 37]
  6.  Nutrients can be delivered by inhalation in an aerosolized  form that would be safer than intravenous magnesium use. [30, 31]
  7.  Limit calcium intake – more is not better. We will retain more when we consume less. The research on strong bones and calcium supplements were for people whose native diet averaged 300 mg calcium per day – not our current RDA of 1000 mg.
  8. Don’t worry about D deficiency and if you are worried then ask for both tests, the inactive and active form of the most powerful hormone in our body.
  9. Ask your government representatives to support food labeling reform. Neotame and free amino acids may be causing migraines, seizures and lead to dementia.
  10. We need our Nutrient Guidelines – the math – checked by a multi-disciplinary team of scientists who use the numbers – food scientists, dietitians, and biochemists should be involved. The math makes our infant formulas and cafeteria menus and when it is wrong then we all suffer.
All nutrients are equally essential. Currently our food supply and health care messages are over-loaded with calcium and vitamin D and it is hurting us. Draining the magnesium from our bones is draining the energy and fluid from our cells and leaves us puffy and pale from anemia. Without magnesium we can’t grow proper blood cells and without healthy white blood cells we can’t protect ourselves from infections and we can’t breakdown decaying, pre-cancerous cells for normal recycling.
Cancer occurs from old cells mutating. Healthy white blood cells can kill the active cancer too. The Linus Pauling Institute successfully treats tumors with high doses of vitamin C. The Gerson Clinic successfully uses a raw foods approach and detoxification with coffee enemas Not too pretty sounding but chemotherapy isn’t pretty either. Why do we continue to hurt people with harsh chemicals when nature gave us what we need in whole foods and the potent herbs and spices. Cinnamon, oregano and rosemary have shown promise in chronic illness. Spice up your lives and enjoy.
Our bodies can do it, we just have to feed ourselves an absorbable balance of a wide variety of essential nutrients.

See Bibliography on the page with this title. I will continue to add to it as I get it organized .

Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. Please see an individual health care professional for individualized health care services. If you have questions or comments please contact me at: jenniferdepew@jenniferdepew.com