Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Ultrasounds and Brain Development

Here is an article in USA Today reporting on a study that suggests that ultrasound waves can affect fetal brain development.

"[Pasko] Rakic's paper said that while the effects of ultrasound in human brain development are not yet known, there are disorders thought to be the result of misplacement of brain cells during their development.
"These disorders range from mental retardation and childhood epilepsy to developmental dyslexia, autism spectrum disorders and schizophrenia," the researchers said.

In Rakic's study, pregnant mice were exposed to ultrasound for various amounts of time ranging from a total exposure of 5 minutes to 420 minutes. After the baby mice were born their brains were studied and compared with those of mice whose mothers had not been exposed to ultrasound.
The study of 335 mice concluded that in those whose mothers were exposed to a total of 30 minutes or more, "a small but statistically significant number" of brain cells failed to grow into their proper position and remained scattered in incorrect parts of the brain. The number of affected cells increased with longer exposures."

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