Modern mums-to-be are suffering from ‘scanxiety’
Modern mums-to-be are suffering from ‘scanxiety’ – and are splashing millions of pounds on unnecessary antenatal scans during their pregnancy, a study has found.
Although the NHS routinely offers two scans at 12 weeks and 20 weeks to check the unborn child’s development, almost a third of pregnant women pay for expensive private ultrasounds as well.
Despite fears that too many high-intensity scans may pose a threat to the foetus, 20 per cent of mums having extra scans pay out for two, while 18 per cent buy three or more.
One in fifty even admitted to forking out for nine or ten extra scans while pregnant – more than one a month.
And more than a third admit they underwent the procedure simply after feeling ‘anxious about their baby’, leading experts to dub the phenomenon ‘Scanxiety’.
The poll of 2,000 mums by parenting site ChannelMum.com found a further third (33%) confessed they just wanted to ‘check in’ on their baby without a medical reason.
Private scan images cost from £35 up to £1,000 for a repeat package – but clinics regularly offer discount vouchers and promotions on sites like Groupon to lure in extra customers.
Mums paying out for private scans spend an average of £217 on extra the treatments while pregnant – equivalent to a £42m a year industry.
This is enough to provide the NHS with 1,620 experienced midwives.
Worryingly, some clinics offer scans of longer than 30 minutes, against medical advice, while others use unregistered sonographers who are unable to provide diagnosis or support if a there is a problem with the pregnancy.
There have even been reports of ‘pop-up’ scan firms offering to carry out the treatment at women’s homes rather than in a clinic, and women being misdiagnosed as having a healthy baby when the pregnancy was ectopic – a life-threatening condition.
Siobhan Freegard, founder of ChannelMum.com, said: “Having a scan can be a wonderful way to bond with your baby and provide reassurance when you are worried.
“But mums need to remember it is a medical procedure and should to be treated very seriously.
“Clinics which allow multiple repeat scans without a medical reason could be risking the baby’s health – so let’s hope the scan industry isn’t the next medical scandal.
“When choosing a clinic, never be afraid to ask if they are regulated and whether their sonographers are properly qualified.”
Mervi Jokinen, Practice and Standards Advisor at the Royal College of Midwives, said: “Current advice by the National Institute For Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is to have an early scan and then a screening scan for anomalies at around 18-20 weeks.
“These are recommendations based on the available research and takes into account the harm and benefit of scans.
“Any further scans beyond these recommendations should be clinically indicated and based on the needs of the women and her developing baby.
“It is of concern that women are needing this extra assurance. It may reflect a need for women to have more confidence in their pregnancy and this type of reassurance and support is, and can, be provided by their midwife.
“Anxieties caused by reliance on technology can have an impact on a woman’s pregnancy, causing undue stress and anxiety.”
The study found 18 per cent of pregnant mums paying for scans opted for the normal 2D scans, while one in ten also pay out for 3-D or 4-D scans, which create a lifelike picture to show the baby’s features.
A further 17 per cent even have a video made of their unborn child while one per cent got a model made of their unborn baby
But reassuringly, the poll revealed the majority of mums booking private scans (47%) used them sensibly to look after the baby’s health.
Of these, 27 per cent checked if the pregnancy was viable, 12 per cent ensured there were no abnormalities earlier than the NHS allows, and one in ten attended a clinic after feeling the baby’s movement change or suffering bleeding.
A further 30 per cent had a scan to discover their child’s gender earlier than NHS allows, while 15 per cent wanted to show their baby to friends and family.
But eight per cent said they paid out privately as the standard NHS scans were ‘not clear or poor quality’ – with some asked to pay up to £10 for NHS scan images.
To help reassure mums who want to discover what their baby looks like during each week of pregnancy, ChannelMum.com have launched first 42-weeks of pregnancy videos complete with real scan footage.
See the videos at http://www.channelmum.com/parenting/pregnancy/pregnancy-week-by-week/
TIPS TO FIND A REPUTABLE SCANNING CLINIC:
1) Check that your clinic is registered with the Care Quality Commission, as it will meet professional standards.
2) Look online for clinic reviews and check how long the company has been established.
3) Ask the clinic abut staff qualifications and experience. Any reputable firm will be happy to help. Your sonographer should be HCPC qualified.
4) Some clinics do offer discounts to make the treatment affordable for everyone. However if you are being pressured to buy more packages than you need or can afford, consider going elsewhere. It’s your body, your baby and your choice.
5) If you feel overly anxious, speak with your midwife. Your scanning firm will work with him or her. And remember if you have a medical need, the NHS will scan you as part of your treatment.