Scientists are afraid that the study made on mice regarding the effect of ultrasound on the brain development of unborn mice might also apply to humans.
The study showed that when pregnant mice were exposed to ultrasound, their developing offspring suffered brain abnormalities in a process called neuronal migration in which neurons move from one place to another.
"Proper migration of neurons during development is essential for normal development of the cerebral cortex and its function," Dr. Pasko Rakic, chair of the Department of Neurobiology at Yale, said in a statement.
"We have observed that a small but significant number of neurons in the mouse embryonic brain do not migrate to their proper positions in the cerebral cortex following prolonged and frequent exposure to ultrasound."
Scientists are to investigate whether this affects humans too. "Those upcoming studies should give us information that will be more directly applicable to uses of ultrasound waves in humans," said research leader Dr Pasko Rakic.
Ultrasound is commonly used during pregnancy to check on the development of the fetus.
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