Are 4D Baby Scans Worth It?

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4D baby scans are cropping up everywhere on social media as parents proudly show their friends and followers the face of their unborn child. Seeing your child in motion is an emotional experience for every parent. However safe the track record of 4D scans may seem, you should be prudent in its application. 

4D baby scans are well worth it when conducted by medical professionals. 4D scans are an excellent diagnostic tool for potential health risks in a baby and enhance the bond between parents and their unborn child. However, unregulated commercial use of 4D scans may harm your child. 

The rest of this article will explain what a 4D scan is and what it does, whether they’re worth the risk, when you can get a 4D scan, how much it costs, and how to save money on your next 4D scan.

What Is a 4D Scan?

A 4D ultrasound scan is a moving 3D scan. The ultrasound technique uses an electronic transducer to emit and receive sound waves. As sound waves penetrate the mother’s body and amniotic fluid, they create a computerized image of the baby.

4D ultrasounds were introduced to complement the 2D and 3D baby scans by obtaining images in real-time.

The sound waves are tiny echoes that bounce around the mother’s womb. The transducers convert the waves into a computerized image. The difference between the 3D and 4D ultrasound is that a 3D ultrasound only creates a three-dimensional image of the baby, while 4D creates a video effect.

The 4D scan creates the illusion of movement by repeating 3D images in short intervals creating adorable real-time results, such as a baby’s smile or yawn.

What Does a 4D Scan Do? 

A 4D scan is an invaluable diagnostic tool when used in the correct medical settings. Professionals use this technology to assess the fetus’ prenatal condition. 4D sonography offers a real-time view of your baby’s facial and body movements through sound waves.

The modern technology of 4D imaging allows for greater detail than static 2D and 3D imaging. It allows you to view common fetus’ behaviors such as: 

  • Swallowing
  • Grimacing
  • Breathing movements
  • Isolated eye blinking
  • The direction of limb movements

A medical professional may use the 4D scan to analyze fetal movements and intrauterine behavior to diagnose potential neurological diseases. The more detailed imaging may also reveal conditions such as cleft palates that don’t show up in 2D scans accurately. 

On a more psychological side, parents may form a closer bond with an unborn child after seeing the child in motion. Imaging can strengthen the parent-child bond before the baby is born.

Are 4D Scans Worth the Risk? 

4D ultrasound imaging is worth the risk as part of a medically supervised procedure. 4D imaging has a good track record regarding safety for over 20 years. This safe record is mainly because the procedure uses non-ionizing radiation, eliminating much of the radiation risks of x-rays.

However, the rise of the maternal-fetal ultrasound industry for commercial use has prompted an informed reaction from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine has unilaterally warned against the imprudent use of 4D imaging during pregnancy. 

Studies have shown that ultrasound exposure over thirty minutes with a thermal and mechanical index of over 1.0 may cause harm to the unborn child. As the scanning process heats the tissue temperature, it may create gas pockets in body fluids or tissues known as cavitation. Long-term effects remain unknown. 

Although keepsake 4D images are acceptable, they should only be the byproduct of a medically-indicated exam, with no additional exposure. Expectant mothers should ensure that the procedure is performed by qualified medical practitioners who understand the required parameters of safe operation. 

When Can You Get a 4D Scan?

The exact time for a 4D scan varies between professionals. The general consensus is between 24 and 32 weeks pregnant. If you carry twins, you need to book earlier, at around 22-26 weeks of your pregnancy. Many parenting sites pin the 27th week as the best time to get a 4D scan.

Often ultrasound institutions advise that mothers should not get a 4D scan later than 32 weeks. The reason behind this date cut-off is that the sonographer needs space in your womb to create detailed 4D images and, at a later stage in your pregnancy, there is little space left in your womb.

How Much Do 4D Scans Cost?

4D scans cost around $150 for 20 minutes on average. Prices vary from place to place and the package you choose. Although you might find cheap 4D scan options, you should research the institution before using its services.

Non-medically indicated commercial 4D scans are typically not covered by insurance, so one would pay for the services upfront.

How To Save Money on 4D Scans?

To save money on 4D scans, you can join popular deals on sites such as Groupon. The caveat is that you should always do your research on the scanning institution to ensure that they are an accredited organization under RDMS to ensure your baby’s safety.

With the influx of “pop-up clinics” exploiting the 4D process as a social media device, expecting mothers should take care to find the best facilities for their 4D scans.

To save money, there has been a move towards Groupon-style deals where clinics cut their costs dramatically to seek prospective clients. 

While this is a great idea in theory, be careful that a new company is not using the portal to promote its untested services. Ensure the chosen institution is an RDMS Certified (Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer and has a proven track record.

Are 4D Scans Worth It?

4D scans are worth it, provided they are conducted in an accredited facility and performed by trained professionals. 4D scans for social media purposes can harm your unborn child and should never be entered into trivially. 4D scans are especially worth it near the end of your pregnancy.

4D scans also allow medical professionals to assess your child’s development. Moreover, they are a wonderful bonding experience between the parents and the child.