As many expectant parents turn to keepsake ultrasounds for a first glimpse of their baby, there is outrage in Australia over allegations that some families may have received images that were not of their children.
A woman who runs a 4D ultrasound business in Bunbury, a city south of Perth on the country’s west coast, appeared in court Monday after many customers became suspicious they were buying fakes.
Rawinia Hayes pleaded not guilty to nine charges in the case, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. She is accused of accepting payment but failing to deliver goods, and making false or misleading representations, the ABC reported, noting that a trial date is expected to be set in April.
The investigation began last year when more than 100 people complained on social media that the ultrasounds they bought looked identical to images found online or given to other parents, The Bunbury Mail reported.
“I’m angry and upset because I have the photo in a frame and have shared with my friends on Facebook,” a mom of twins told the newspaper. "Now I don’t know if they are mine.”
In all, Australia's Department of Consumer Protection received 77 complaints about the business, according to Perth Now.
The case "confirms the need to restrict the use of diagnostic medical ultrasound equipment for medical diagnosis and to regulate the profession," the CEO of the Australasian Sonographers Association said in a statement last month.
Doctors have long used ultrasounds to monitor the health of a fetus during pregnancy. But the images have also become popular outside the doctor’s office as new technology allows an ever-clearer look inside the womb at the growing baby, complete with a peek at its facial features. Businesses offering 3D and 4D images have sprung up in malls and other places.
The FDA recently warned parents to skip any unnecessary scans to help keep the fetus safe. It recommends that scans be done only when medically necessary and by trained operators.