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Why are ultrasounds performed during pregnancy?

Also known as a sonogram, a pregnancy ultrasound uses short pulses of high-frequency, low-intensity sound waves to create images of the baby inside your uterus. Unlike X-rays, there is no radiation exposure to you or the baby. This test can be performed in a health care professional's office or in an outpatient diagnostic center.

Ultrasound has been used safely in obstetrics for decades. When performed early in the pregnancy, it can provide an accurate gestational age and due date for your baby and is sometimes more reliable than calculating your due date mathematically from your last period. Many expectant moms like to get an ultrasound hoping to learn the child's sex, but health care professionals are much more focused on looking for possible birth defects. If they suspect any problems with your baby, you may need other tests.

Most women experiencing a healthy pregnancy receive only one ultrasound, usually around 18 to 20 weeks, though you may have more than one.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.