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A view in the womb

3D Ultrasound A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a woman whose company recently opened an elective 3D-4D ultrasound, Goldenview Ultrasound, just down the street from our store in Brookline. She was interested in doing some marketing together, since our businesses both see a lot of pregnant women. I was very hesitant. Common sense (and my Bradley Birth teacher from my first pregnancy) would dictate that unnecessary ultrasound exposure isn’t a good idea. But I decided to do some homework before I dismissed it out of hand.

I read as many different articles as I could find, and everything I read said that ultrasound has been proven safe over decades of use. Still suspicious, I called my OB, who is very natural-minded and a firm believer in minimizing interventions during pregnancy and delivery. Perfectly safe, she told me.

It was my mom, a psychologist, who raised another red flag. Scientists have shown that extended exposure to ultrasound causes improper development in certain brain cells – in mouse embryos. But still. This study raised concerns about a possible link between ultrasound and autism. The FDA frowns on “keepsake” ultrasounds, even going so far as to call it “an unapproved use of a medical device.” Yeesh.

But my sister, who is just about six weeks away from delivering her first baby, perked up when I mentioned elective ultrasound. She’s had, thank God, a very uneventful pregnancy, and at her second trimester ultrasound, the technician hadn’t been able to tell the gender of the baby.  Both she and her husband really wanted to know. “I’ve only had three ultrasounds my whole pregnancy,” she pointed out. If she could find out the gender and have a chance to see the baby again, why wouldn’t she?

So then I realized that this is not my decision to make on behalf of my customers. Or my sister. The outfit in Brookline is reputable and well-run, with medical advisers on staff and experienced technicians at the helm. The resource is there. If the moms-to-be want to use it, great. If not, also great.

Curious now, I arranged for my sister to have a 25 minute session this past week. Even my mother came around, and she and my dad, my youngest sister and me all settled into the spacious room along with my sister and brother-in-law. Soft music played, and the technician gave us all a sneak peek at the newest member of our family. It was a blast, and sure enough the gender was revealed (don’t ask – it’s a surprise for the rest of you). My sister had a great time, but at the end, when the technician offered her a free follow-up visit as part of a training session, she politely declined. “I can wait six more weeks to see my baby again.”


  1. As one business owner to another, first I applaud you for doing your research regarding 3D ultrasound.

    One note of caution with regard to the center you are potentailly going to join at the hip with; I copied the following from their website:

    We employ certified ultrasound technicians with advanced training in 3D & 4D imaging

    This verbiage is code for……….we do not employ RDMS certified sonographers. Ultrasound technicians repair ultrasound machines in the medical world; not operate them.

    I am taking the time to make you aware of this because I imagine you have spent years building the reputation of your business. I would be sceptical about other “less than ethical business practices” your potential partner may be engaging in.
    Apparently, they are willing to overlook the most important factor in determining the quality of service they provide to their unknowing clients. It causes one to ask what other shortcuts they may be taking.

    May your conscience be your guide and perhaps a bit of gut instinct as well,

  2. to Martha:

    I used to run salary surveys and help with job descriptions in the medical field (hospitals and nursing homes primarily) and they used the term ultrasound technician to mean a person trained to perform ultrasounds. A quick internet search of job postings confirms this. In fact, this very company has a job positing on saying requirements are:

    Ø Graduation from qualified ultrasound program required
    Ø RDMS registered or eligible a plus
    Ø 3D/4D imaging experience a plus but not required

    This is similar to a Caritas Cristi (a major health system)

    “Requirements: Graduate of an approved School of Sonography; one year experience preferred. RDMS registered or registry eligible. Duties Include: Perform a variety of ultrasound procedures through the use of technical expertise and following departmental policy and procedure.”

    That said, I too, am not a fan of elective ultrasounds and wouldn’t get one, but I don’t think they are using untrained people.

  3. As the owner of a 3D ultrasound business I cannot help but comment. Historically nurses have performed diagnostic ultrasounds long before there WERE ultrasound technologists, technicians or whatever we choose to call them. They were trained by the physician to do the ultrasounds. Many physicians choose to perform their own ultrasounds – are they RDMS? I don’t know of any that are although they may exist. In my city there are ultrasound techs who have worked in physicians offices and at the hospital for many years who are not RDMS. This does not mean these people are not trained and are not capable of doing a 3D ultrasound.

  4. I’m obviously not qualified to comment on what the implications are of any specific level of training, but I will say that the woman who performed the ultrasound on my sister was extremely knowledgeable. She was an OB/GYN in Armenia, and she came to the USA, got her master’s degree in public health and is now working to get her license to practice medicine in this country. I would say she was more than qualified to perform the ultrasound, and she definitely knew what she was looking at.

  5. As someone who had the 15 minute session performed at 33 wks, I must say that the benefits we got out of having it done was more than I would have thought when I signed up for one. My initial reaction when seeing their ads in the pregnancy magazines previously was hesitancy given all that I read about it – safety, etc – and feeling as if I were doing some illicit: I’ve been reluctant to tell my MD or friends that we had one. But with my last “official” ultrasound at 20-21 wks, I’ve looked at the 4D images more than I thought I would initially and it has made these final weeks much more tolerable by allowing us to see the baby. Ultimately, like with anything to do with pregnancy/parenthood/life, I think it’s up to each person to make their decision about risks/benefits. It’s a service that is being offered – people can choose not to partake in it.

  6. I am very proud to be partnering with a great establishment like Magic Beans. I have enjoyed the Brookline store as a customer, often visiting with my toddler in tow. My daughter enjoys the play area and I enjoy their great selection of educational toys and really love their diaper bags. The customer service that I receive there has been phenomenal which is why I knew they would make a perfect marketing partner for GoldenView Ultrasound. GoldenView Ultrasound also strives for superior customer service. Sheri did ask a lot of questions before agreeing to partner with us and I did assure her about the experience of our staff. GoldenView Ultrasound MA Inc in Brookline does have an RDMS registered sonographer on staff as well as an MD performing the ultrasounds. We encourage our clients to ask about their qualifications because we take great pride in the knowledge and experience of our staff. If you or someone you know are considering having an elective 3D/4D Ultrasound done, I do encourage you to ask about the qualifications of the person performing the ultrasound. Elective ultrasounds have been proven to provide a positive bonding experience, not only for the mother but for other family members as well. We have many satisfied customers.

  7. Instead of elective ultrasound, take the money and put it into a college fund. 😉

  8. Ultrasound Technician is pretty standard terminology for someone who performs ultrasounds. In this application it has nothing to do with repairing ultrasound machines….come on!

    You can attend and successfully graduate from a medical ultrasound program w/out becoming RDMS certified. That is an add’t certification. You are generally required to have it within a year of signing on at a hospital for employment.

    Elective ultrasound facilities are not required to employ somebody with any medical training at all. Our facility does employ techs who went through medical ultrasound education programs. Although elective ultrasounds are not done for medical reasons, it is nice to have someone who can recognize a glaring problem as opposed to somebody who was not trained to do so.

    Perhaps those at this facility have medical education, but “advanced training in 3D & 4D imaging” may not always indicate medical ultrasound education. If a mother desires this, she should ask if techs were trained in a formal medical ultrasound program.

    ProView Ultrasound
    Lancaster, PA

  9. Also, it is significant that Goldenview has medical supervision…”We have medical oversight from a Board Certified OB/Gyn”. Our business does not do any medical procedures, so we do not have physician guidance. I suspect most places do not unless they do medical ultrasound at the same facility.

  10. hey, really enjoyed this blog post! Well written. Will come back.

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