A new study has revealed more women than ever before are paying to have private scans, despite also undergoing free scans on the NHS.
UK guidelines recommend women undergo two scans during their pregnancy; one at 12 weeks and the other at 20 weeks. In some cases, more may be provided if there is a concern over the health of the baby, but two is usually sufficient for healthy pregnancies. So, why are patients opting to pay for private scans on top of these free scans and could it impact baby’s health?
Study shows anxiety is driving rise in private pregnancy scans
According to this new study conducted by the ChannelMum.com parenting site, a third of pregnant women in England are paying for private pregnancy scans. The reason behind the increase is said to be down to anxiety over baby’s health.
Approximately 1 in 3 pregnant women have what is being dubbed “scanxiety”, but are unaware it could be doing more harm than good. The study surveyed 2000 mums, showed 1 in 5 paid for two additional scans, while 18% paid for three or more additional scans. Most worryingly, 1 in 50 women admitted to paying for 9-10 extra ultrasound scans equating to almost one scan a month for the duration of the pregnancy.
Many of these scans are also longer than standard scans offered on the NHS, taking approximately 30 minutes or more each time. These longer scans are much riskier as they expose baby to increased levels of ultrasound. If the scans delve deeper into the abdomen, due to excess fat for example, they could be particularly harmful.
Which scans are available privately?
There are three different types of scans available privately. These include:
- Viability scan
- Gender scan
- 3D and 4D scans
The visibility scan is carried out earlier than the NHS scan, taking place between 6-10 weeks. This simply checks that the pregnancy is developing as it should and can prove reassuring to those who have previously suffered a miscarriage.
The gender scan helps you to identify the gender of your baby. Typically, you can find this out during your second NHS ultrasound scan, but it’s worth noting that not all hospitals will tell you. So, the gender scan can prove useful if you can’t get an answer from your NHS healthcare provider.
Finally, the 3D and 4D scans have become really popular in recent years. They provide a unique view of your baby, with 4D scans being particularly impressive. These tend to be deeper scans lasting for longer periods of time.
Could additional scans be harmful to baby’s health?
Private scans can prove invaluable for those who are genuinely concerned about their baby’s health. An additional couple of scans are unlikely to cause any serious problems. However, patients are advised to limit the number of additional scans they undergo and avoid having them simply for the fun of it.
When used correctly, private scans can offer peace of mind and provide a unique image of baby you can keep and treasure forever.