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October 5, 2021

Are ECCs present in ultrasound gels a health risk?

Ultrasound tests during pregnancy are routine for most pregnant women, so it comes as quite a shock to discover that the gel used to lubricate skin during the procedure might be causing harm by exposing women to skin contact with EDCs.


Researchers at Harvard University undertook a study to find out if phthalates and phenols used in ultrasound gel might be a source of exposure to EDCs during a critical period of hormone development for mother and child. They analysed urine samples of women who were participating in a fertility study to see what levels of EDCs could be detected in their samples, before, just after, and 7 – 12 hours after their ultrasound scans. Samples were sent for lab analysis to test the presence and levels of 19 phthalates and 11 phenols. The analysis identified that the concentration levels of phthalates peaked between 7-12 hours after the ultrasound gel was applied.


It’s possible that the women went on to use other products that also contain these chemicals such as shampoos or other personal care products, but this study suggests that there might be a connection between the levels of EDCs detected and exposure during the ultrasound procedure.


Readers who are pregnant might ask, is the gel posing a health risk to me? Ultrasound gel has been widely used for decades to help improve the resolution of the images the ultrasound, so it must be safe, surely? This study raises concerns for the first time, and whilst there is more research needed, anyone who is concerned should consider taking a substitute such as an organic oil, or ask if the procedure can be carried out using water only.


To read the full study please visit The National Library of Medicine.



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