Connecticut bans 'keepsake' ultrasounds

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Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell has signed a new law that limits obstetrical ultrasound procedures to those that are ordered by a licensed healthcare professional and are needed for a medical or diagnostic purpose.

Connecticut House Bill 5635, An Act Concerning Ultrasound Procedures for Medical and Diagnostic Purposes, was passed last month because of concern about the growth of entertainment or "keepsake" ultrasounds. These are ultrasound photos or videos of the unborn child taken solely for use as memorabilia.

"I understand the desire of any proud parent-to-be to document every moment of this miraculous process," Rell said. "But we cannot let those desires pose a risk to the health of a mother or her baby. Nor can we take the chance that a mother might skip her medically necessary ultrasound appointment simply because a ‘keepsake' ultrasound seemed to indicate all was well with the baby."

According to the governor, at least three ultrasound boutique clinics have opened in Connecticut, where the only service offered is keepsake ultrasounds with packages that include photos, discounts on future visits and DVD recordings of the procedures--some as long as 30 minutes. Anecdotal evidence in support of the legislation included reports of "family viewings" and at least one woman who had 19 non-medical ultrasounds taken during the course of her pregnancy.

"Doctors use ultrasound at very low power to check on the health of a fetus and to identify any possible problems as far in advance as possible," Rell said. "Still, ultrasound is a form of radiated energy--and any such energy has the potential to affect human tissue. As a medical procedure, the risks are worth taking. But when ultrasound is used for other purposes--especially if the procedure is used an excessive number of times or used for an extended periods of time--those risks can no longer be justified."