South Korean Women Have More Ultrasounds While Pregnant than Other Countries

John Kim, Feb. 15, 2016, 7:29 a.m.


Pregnant Korean women get an average of 7.5 ultrasound scans before giving birth, much more than in Europe and the U.S, where the standard is four to six. The Health Insurance Policy Research Institute in September polled 800 women in six cities who are pregnant or gave birth within the last year.

Some 200 were between 20 and 35, 367 between 35 and 39, and 33 over 40. All had ultrasounds, and the average was 7.5 throughout their pregnancy. Doctors say while ultrasound is a vital tool to establish the health of the baby, there is no point overusing it. "Korean women tend to have frequent ultrasounds because they’re afraid the child could be disabled," an obstetrician said. "And doctors go along because they don't want to get sued. Maybe it's because there isn't really a support network for disabled children here."

The Korean Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said there is no right answer to how many ultrasounds are needed because it all depends on the condition of mother and baby -- women with high-risk pregnancies obviously need more scans. It therefore declines to set guidelines.

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