Queen Alexandra Hospital’s decision to ban under-16s from all ultrasound scans appears on the face of it to be a little harsh. We all know expectant mums are keen to share their scan with brothers or sisters of the impending new arrival.
But looking at it from a purely medical standpoint, sonographers – those who carry out the scans – are there to do much more than provide a picture of the baby and find out the gender.
An ultrasound is a vitally important part of the pregnancy process and sonographers are looking for all sorts – a heartbeat, a range of abnormalities and the general health of the baby and mother.
Any distraction at this point could lead to a sonographer missing a serious life-changing abnormality.
This happened elsewhere in the country and is what has prompted QA to introduce the policy from April this year.
And as one sonographer at QA said: ‘We need to be able to fully concentrate and make sure we are doing all the necessary observations. We might have to do an internal examination which can be difficult if a child is around.’
So while it is understandable that an expectant mum would want her other children, husband and perhaps her own mother with her while she has the scan, as it can be a special time for all concerned, a sonographer is a highly skilled medical professional and no-one would want any slight distraction in the room to affect the scanner’s ability to spot something that could affect the baby’s life.
There is concern that mums will miss scans because they have no-one available to look after another child.
But a scan is booked in advance and, therefore, there should be ample opportunity to arrange childcare while it is carried out.