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Reader's Write: The ultrasound-autism connection

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Posted: Thursday, April 10, 2014 12:34 pm

On March 24, 2014, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta released its latest data on autism. 

After surveying medical and school records of eight-year-olds from 11 states, the CDC found that autism has more than doubled since the new century began only 14 years ago. 

Today the condition affects one out of 68 children – five times as many boys as girls. Alarmingly, there was a 30 percent climb in its incidence between 2008 and 2010.

The powers-that-be at the CDC once again trotted out the age-old rationales to explain this bizarre finding:

· Greater awareness and therefore earlier and more accurate diagnoses

· The role that being an older parent plays not only in the incidence of autism but also Down syndrome and other developmental disabilities

· Genes

· “Something” in the environment

What those experts consistently omit is the role that ultrasound exams during pregnancy may and probably do play in the rapidly-escalating incidence of the condition (more about that below).

In the recent past, the alarming spike in autism has been attributed to the mercury-containing preservative thimerosol, used to prevent bacterial or fungal contamination in the vaccines babies and children routinely receive. But thimerosol has not been used in the U.S. since 2001 and the vaccine dosages given before then had about the same amount of mercury found in an infant’s daily supply of breast milk.

Last week, in this newspaper’s letters section, Arturo Bravermann from Great Neck stated that “there is indeed decisive evidence that vaccines given to children – and adults – are causing injuries to their nervous systems which reduce their ability to think, learn, and function.”

But Bravermann’s assertion is not backed up by hard science. Numerous studies – by The CDC, The Institute of Medicine, The American Academy of Pediatrics, The World Health Organization, and The National Academy of Sciences, among others – have found no autism-vaccine link, while other studies have shown an increase in autism in countries that have removed thimerosal from vaccines.

I have my own theory. In the early ‘70s, I worked as a delivery-room nurse at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset. It was a revolutionary time in obstetrics, when the Lamaze method of “prepared childbirth” and the use of sonograms – which had just been introduced in America – to visualize fetuses were gaining popularity.

At the end of the ‘70s, I became a certified Lamaze teacher and spent the next 22 years giving classes in my home. In a very real way, I had my own laboratory, as I learned directly from my clients about the escalation of sonogram exams they had as the decades elapsed.

In the early 1980s, it was common for only one or two out of the 10 women in my classes to have a sonogram. In just a few years, every woman in my classes had had a sonogram. And in the late ‘80s and ‘90s, almost every woman had not one sonogram, but often two or three or four or five – starting as early as three or four weeks gestation and extending, in some instances, right up to delivery!

It was in the ‘90s, in fact, that it began to occur to me that the scary rise in autism might be linked to the significant rise in ultrasound exams. 

I contacted autism researchers Dr. Marcel Just and Dr. Diane L. Williams, who told me via e-mail that Dr. Pasko Rakic at Yale was, indeed, exploring the autism-ultrasound link.

Then, in 2006, I found an article in Midwifery Today, “Questions about Prenatal Ultrasound and the Alarming Increase in Autism,” by writer-researcher Caroline Rodgers, who asked: “What do countries and regions with climates, diets and exposure to known toxins as disparate as the U.S., Japan, Scandinavia, Australia, India and the UK have in common?”  

The answer, she said, was that “what all industrial countries do have in common is …the use of routine prenatal ultrasound on pregnant women. In countries with nationalized healthcare, where virtually all pregnant women are exposed to ultrasound, the autism rates are even higher than in the U.S….”

Then, in August 2006, Dr. Pasko Rakic, chair of Yale School of Medicine’s Department of Neurobiology, announced the results of a study in which pregnant mice underwent various durations of ultrasound. The brains of the offspring showed damage consistent with that found in the brains of people with autism.

In, Jennifer Margulis, author of Business of Baby: What Doctors Don’t Tell You, What Corporations Try to Sell You, and How to Put Your Baby Before Their Bottom Line, writes that Dr. Rakic “concluded that all nonmedical use of ultrasound on pregnant women should be avoided.” 

In her research, Margulis said, she discovered that “there is mounting evidence that overexposure to sound waves – or perhaps exposure to sound waves at a critical time during fetal development – is to blame for the astronomic rise in neurological disorders among America’s children.”

Margulis may have been referring to the problems that sound and heat have on the brains of developing fetuses. A 2009 article in Scientific American by John Slocum explains that sonar (Sound Navigation And Ranging) systems, which were first developed by the U.S. Navy to detect enemy submarines, “generate slow-rolling sound waves topping out at around 235 decibels; the world’s loudest rock bands top out at only 130.”

This is relevant because there are hundreds if not thousands of cases that point to the dangers of sound waves in the animal kingdom. As many as 3,000 dead dolphins were found in Peru during the summer of 2012 which were attributed to the use of deep water sonar by ships in nearby waters. In June of 2008, dolphins died in a mass stranding four days after a Navy helicopter was using controversial sonar equipment during training exercises off the Cornish coast in Great Britain.

If sonar beams can kill fully-developed dolphins, what effect then do they have on the developing brains of in-utero embryos and fetuses? And why is this never discussed or debated or mentioned on TV broadcasts like the ones that devoted about 30 seconds to the CDC’s latest and quite disastrous findings?

More horrifying is that in 1993, the Food and Drug Administration approved an eight-fold increase in the potential acoustical output of ultrasound equipment, ostensibly to enhance better visualization of the heart and small vessels during microsurgery. Clearly, the health and well-being of developing fetuses was not a consideration!

Again, researcher Caroline Rodgers asks the question every woman must be asking herself after hearing of the disastrous results of the new CDC study:

“Using common sense, why would anyone think that intruding upon the continuous, seamless development of the fetus, which has for millions of years completed its work without assistance, be without consequences?”

In a presentation to Homeland Security in October of 2010, Rodgers called the escalating use of ultrasound during pregnancy “The Elephant in the Room,” and stated that the “worldwide autism boom …began with children born only 22 years ago in 1988-1989, and increased prevalence is common among higher socioeconomic, better-educated groups with private health insurance and from more affluent communities. 

She concluded that, Only increased exposure to prenatal ultrasound can explain all of the above.

There is a vast human tragedy – a true man-made disaster – taking place before our eyes. But is not the first time that modern medicine has taken the wrong turn. Think about how many years – even decades – it took for the powers-that-be to take Thalidomide, DES, the Copper 7, hormone-replacement-therapy drugs and Vioxxx off the market (to name just a tiny sample of medications and/or devices that proved harmful if not fatal).

Could ultrasound for pregnant women have anything to do with the huge investments doctors and scientists have made in this technology, which, according to Jennifer Margulis, “adds more than $1 billion to the cost of caring for pregnant women in America each year”?

Could it have anything to do with the revenue now pouring like an avalanche into the coffers of diagnostic and treatment centers and classrooms?

There is indeed an elephant in the room when it comes to the subject of autism – and that elephant is the worldwide blitzkrieg of ultrasound exams on pregnant women, exams that have bombarded the babies they’re carrying with the brain-warping sound waves and heat that will affect them every second of their autistic lives.

Joan Swirsky

Great Neck

Welcome to the discussion.


  • lilady posted at 2:22 am on Thu, Apr 24, 2014.

    lilady Posts: 1

    I have a copy of the presentation made by Caroline Rodgers at the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) here:

    If you look through Rodgers slide presentation you will see that she confuses prevalence of autism with the incidence of autism.

    Prevalence is the number of people at a point in time or over a period of time who have a particular identified condition. This is usually expressed as a number of people per 10,000 of the general population. Incidence refers to the number of people who are newly identified or acquire a condition over a period of time, often over a year or a longer period.

    Rodgers also managed to tie ultrasounds during pregnancy in the United States and in South Korea with the "prevalence" (not incidence) of autism, yet none of the authors of that study, made that association. Dr. Roy Grinker, who has an autistic child and is one of the authors of that study was interviewed about the prevalence of autism in the United States and the higher prevalence in Korea:

    Dr. Grinker is also the author of an excellent book on autism, "Unstrange Minds" and he provides the broadening of the DSM Diagnostic Criteria, from the earliest DSM I manual to the DSM-IV-R manual, which explains how the broadening of the Diagnostic Criteria has impacted the prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders:

    We are just beginning to identify the chromosomal and genetic mutations which are implicated in autism. Organizations such as the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI) have funded research, and their research studies are available here:

  • My First Foto posted at 6:31 am on Mon, Apr 14, 2014.

    My First Foto Posts: 1

    Ultrasound is pain-free and secure procedure which give you a probability to bring your child's first pictures into the world. For more details about ultrasound, read this article..


  • Doctor J posted at 8:33 am on Sat, Apr 12, 2014.

    Doctor J Posts: 9

  • Doctor J posted at 8:31 am on Sat, Apr 12, 2014.

    Doctor J Posts: 9

    Sonograms may very well be harmful to fetuses, but if they are we must not infer that vaccines are not. That the CDC and the Academy of Pediatricians have "have found no autism-vaccine link" is laughable, for obvious reasons. Bravermann succinctly and cogently explained the mechanism that induces inflammation in the brain with every vaccination. Besides, mercury is still in flu vaccines (which pregnant mothers are urged by the CDC and the Academy of Pediaticians to have) and, what's more, mercury has been replaced in the other vaccines with a worse neurotoxin, aluminum! Bravo. So, please, thank you for your sonogram work but why must it be at the expense of propping up vaccine-pushing?