Women Say Overwhelming Yes To Ultrasound In New Study

December 05, 1997

ANN ARBOR, Mich.--A great majority of pregnant women want ultrasounds---so much so, that many are willing to pay out of pocket for it if their insurance company won't cover the procedure. That was one of the findings of a new study, conducted at the University of Michigan Medical Center. The results were presented Dec. 1 at the 83rd Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.

Researchers found that 95 percent of the women surveyed thought it was important to have an ultrasound. "Pregnancy is a very emotional, psychologically stressful state and there's a great deal of peace of mind to be gotten from seeing a baby that is moving, where you can see its fingers and toes and limbs," says Ella Kazerooni, M.D., assistant professor of radiology at the U-M Medical Center.

The research team surveyed 318 pregnant women between the ages of 15 and 44 who were at U-M for their first obstetrical visit. Among the other findings in the study:Kazerooni says the survey results are interesting, coming in the wake of 1993 study of 15,000 women, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, that showed no medical benefit from routine ultrasounds. Recent studies in Europe, however, have shown that mothers who received an ultrasound bonded better with their child during and after pregnancy and had less stress while they carried the child.

"The study confirms that women want ultrasound for their normal, healthy, routine pregnancies," says Kazerooni. "However, unlike screening mammography for breast cancer, the medical benefit of screening ultrasound in routine pregnancy has not been proven. In order to promote the better use of scarce health care dollars, we are planning to study the role of education in changing patient's beliefs about screening prenatal ultrasound."

This study was conducted by researchers from the departments of radiology, obstetrics and gynecology, and CHOICES (Centers for Health Outcomes, Innovations and Cost-Effectiveness Studies) at the U-M Medical Center.

University of Michigan

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