Photo courtesy of the FDA's consumer report on ultrasounds

Keepsake ultrasounds, a recent trend popularized by expecting mothers, may soon become passé when the state enforces its limitations on the practice Wednesday. Effective July 1, ultrasounds that serve no diagnostic or medical purpose and are not ordered by a health professional will be banned in Connecticut.

However, Gina Beaudoin, the owner of A Tiny Perspective in Glastonbury, a company that provides families with keepsake ultrasound photos and DVD recordings, was quick to point out that her practice does in fact serve both a diagnostic and a medical purpose.

Beaudoin said the ultrasounds performed at A Tiny Perspective can determine the sex of the baby and that the emotional connection made during the viewing process should not be dismissed.

“Emotionally, this has a very significant impact,” Beaudoin said. “It has many medical benefits.”

Furthermore, Beaudoin said receiving a doctor’s consent for a keepsake ultrasound would not be difficult.

The bill was unanimously passed in the Senate and only Rep. Melissa Olson, D-Norwich opposed the bill in the House.

On June 24 Gov. M. Jodi Rell signed the bill and released a statement saying, “I understand the desire of any proud parent-to-be to document every moment of this miraculous process, 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.” Click here to read the entire press release.

According to the FDA, women should “avoid fetal keepsake images,” unless prescribed by a physician.

“Although there are no known risks of ultrasound imaging… the radiation associated with [it] can produce effects on the body,” said Robert Phillips, Ph.D., a physicist with the FDA. “When ultrasound enters the body, it heats the tissues slightly. In some cases, it can also produce small pockets of gas in body fluids or tissues.”

Dennis Johnson, the director of health in Guilford, noted that the technicians at keepsake ultrasound facilities do not need to be licensed or credentialed by the State Health Department.

But, Beaudoin’s company, as well as A Stork’s Studio in Orange, have the seal of approval from United Imaging Partners – a company that “creates a unique franchising model” for entrepreneurs. On its Web site, United Imaging Partners boasts, “We see not only entrepreneurs, but financial investors taking advantage of our 4D ultrasound franchise model.”

Edmund R. Funai, a doctor at the department of obstetrics at Yale University expressed similar concerns about women partaking in keepsake ultrasounds. 

“The use of ultrasound to create ‘keepsake’ images or entertainment purposes in no way promotes the health of the citizens of Connecticut or the public good,” he said during a February public hearing on the bill. Yet he also stated, “Although there are no confirmed biological effects on patients caused by exposures from present diagnostic ultrasound instruments, the possibility exists that such biological effects may be identified in the future. Thus ultrasound should be used in a prudent manner to provide medical benefit to the patient.” Click here to read the rest of the committee’s report on the bill. 

Beaudoin said Funai’s argument, that keepsake ultrasounds are potentially dangerous, is undoubtedly flawed, because anything can be considered “potentially” dangerous.

“First and foremost ultrasound is a safe technology,” she added. “We are limiting the risk by using low frequency sound waves and we never scan for more than 30 minutes at a time.”

Beaudoin said she was disappointed the bill passed and has already seen a decrease in the number of clients at A Tiny Perspective. She said legislators did not give her enough time to express the benefits of keepsake ultrasounds.

“Nobody had the time,” she said. “No one came to the facility. No one read any of the material I left them. We were up at the statehouse on many occasions…it was a David and Goliath situation.”

The franchisee said her business took a hit because many people are confused with the new legislation and assume all keepsake ultrasounds are banned. She added that because her ultrasounds provide diagnostic and medical information and can be ordered by a doctor, A Tiny Perspective will remain open.

“We have every intention of meeting every standard and complying with the law,” she noted.