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Prenatal Portraits: Darling or Dangerous?

Many businesses offer ultrasound pictures and videos of unborn babies for entertainment purposes, but some experts say these fun pictures could be harmful.

Parents' Choice continued...

Last spring, Skelos introduced legislation to restrict the use of ultrasound on a pregnant woman, unless she had a prescription or a referral by a licensed physician, nurse practitioner, or licensed midwife. The bill, S.6776-A, also prohibits ultrasounds for entertainment purposes or for reasons that are not warranted by the patient's condition.

A senate committee is currently reviewing the bill. If it goes through, ultrasound operators that violate the law could face a maximum prison sentence of one year.

"One of the things that is clearly troubling about the practice of providing entertainment ultrasounds is that it's a volume business," says Dunham. He says the ultrasound machines cost more than $100,000 and the centers would need to generate enough business to not only cover costs, but to make a profit. Some sites offer discounts for repeat visits.

"That clearly demonstrates the conflict of interest between the woman's and baby's health and operating business," says Dunham.

Business aside, the keepsake ultrasounds appear to bring lots of joy to parents and their families. "Virtually everybody that walks out of our service loves what we do," says Hayward. "I believe our numbers are above 99% for patient satisfaction."

Published Aug. 10, 2004.

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