Dr. Sparks blogs about ultrasound and new “reveal party” trend

The Huffington Post reported last week that one of the newer trends to challenge the imagination, creativity, and wallet of expectant parents, the gender-reveal party, has taken a new twist. It seems that parents can now hire a commercial ultra-sonographer to visit their gathering of friends, family, and whomever and capture the “revealing moment” by passing the ultrasound wand across mom’s baby bump as all in attendance watch and wait for the pronouncement—girl or boy! Sounds amazing…or does it?

Never mind that, according to Huffpost, the technician’s fee will run somewhere between $100 and $350 or that some say this is just another example of too much information. Consider for a moment other potential “side effects” of the event.

For your physician, ultrasound is a wonderful tool. It shows us the age of your baby, its growth rate, the location of the placenta, its position, the amount of fluid around the baby, and it assures us that we know how many babies you are expecting.  Before ultrasound, almost half of all twin pregnancies were discovered in the delivery room!  We use all of this information to help you and your baby toward the healthiest possible outcome. And we have enjoyed sharing with families the dramatic action-shot of the soon-to-be newborn that our 4D ultrasound provides.

But ultrasound is NOT A TOY. A non-medical ultrasound may falsely assure parents that their scan has been diagnostic and that “all is well.” Worse yet, a non-medical ultrasound may reveal a potential problem that the technician does not have the training to discuss with you; nor would you want to receive this information in a social setting.

We agree with the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists that “Obstetric ultrasonography is most appropriately obtained as part of an integrated system for delivering prenatal care.” The moment you discover your baby’s gender is surely one of the tenderest moments of your life, wherever that occurs. We urge you to consider these issues carefully before choosing a non-medical ultrasound.