"4-D" ultrasound shows what your baby will look like

By Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Whose nose does he have? Whose cheeks will she have? Those are just a couple of questions expectant moms and dads may ask during the nine months leading up to birth. Ultrasounds have been around for years, but thanks to new technology, you can see even the tiniest details before baby is born.

The Sawyers don't know what they're looking at, but soon they will. "Everyone keeps asking me boy or girl, and I don't have the mother's intuition of what it is," said Anna Sawyer.
"We went through the attic the other day and saw all the girls stuff and realized how much cheaper a girl would be," said Joel Sawyer.

When Anna, who is due in June, leaves her appointment, she'll know a lot more than the color scheme for the nursery. She'll know what her baby's face looks like in "4-D."

A Lexington Women's Care ultrasound tech says that's Anna's call to make. "Some don't prefer to see what the baby looks like and some do," said Sarah Chambers. "Some are very excited to see and compare noses."

First, the big gender reveal uses traditional 2-D images to show the baby is a boy. Thanks to new technology, the machines add new dimensions.

"3-D and 4-D are different," said Chambers. "4-D is still an image, it's the same picture as 4-D, but 4-D adds the dimension of time."

The photo shows Baby Sawyer's umbilical cord right by its face. You can also make out his features. "Look at his little face," said Joel. "I read all this stuff, get emails of what the baby's supposed to look like, now you can actually see it."

The further she is along, the more detail she'll be able to see. Although this procedure was done under a doctor's supervision, it's not always that way. In the past few years, billboards have advertised commercial shops in places like strip malls who perform 4-D ultrasounds offering keepsake photos, and the FDA says that is a problem.
Because radiation is involved, they warn against getting one from someone who's not medically trained. A physicist with the FDA says "Performing prenatal ultrasounds without medical oversight may put a mother and her unborn baby at risk."

But in an environment like this, the FDA says ultrasounds are believed to be safe. And if nine months is too long, it's perfectly fine to get a sneak preview.

The cost depends on your insurance.

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