Fetal ultrasound imaging provides real-time images of the fetus. Doppler fetal ultrasound heartbeat monitors are hand-held ultrasound devices that let you listen to the heartbeat of the fetus. Both are prescription devices designed to be used by trained health care professionals. They are not intended for over-the-counter (OTC) sale or use, and the FDA strongly discourages their use for creating fetal keepsake images and videos.
“The lack of evidence of any harm due to ultrasound imaging and heartbeat monitors, but the use of these devices by trained health care providers is important. In some cases ultrasound can heat tissues slight and can also produce cavitation in some tissues,” says Shahram Vaezy, Ph.D., an FDA biomedical engineer.
FDA keepsake videos and images are controversial because there is no medical benefit. FDA is aware of several companies in the U.S. that commercializes ultrasonic imaging by making fetal keepsake videos. In some cases, the ultrasound machine may be used for as long as an hour to get a video of the fetus. There is no control on how long a single imaging session will last or how many sessions will take place, and “that increases the potential for harm to the fetus and eventually the mother.”