Using ultrasound to determine the gender of a fetus or for other non-medical purposes such as "entertainment" ringtones and keepsake videos is being strongly opposed by Canadian pregnancy specialists and radiologists.

Given the proliferation of entertainment ultrasound units and media reports of "non-medical clinics performing gender determination in the first trimester," the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada and the Canadian Association of Radiologists said an updated policy statement was needed.

"This technology should not be used for the sole purpose of determining fetal gender without a medical indication for that scan," the policy statement in the February issue of the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada concludes.

The groups said a fetus should not be exposed to ultrasound "for commercial or entertainment purposes, and it could be considered unethical to perform these scans."

The doctors are concerned that in non-medical ultrasounds, fetal exposure to energy may not be appropriately monitored, and unsafe levels of abdominal pressure and fetal manoeuvring could be used to secure a commercial product.

What’s more, those operating machines for non-medical purposes may be poorly trained to recognize abnormalities, which potentially lead to false reassurance to the patient that everything is "normal" and false-positive diagnoses that might lead to unnecessary interventions.

Both Health Canada and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration also recommend against commercial and entertainment ultrasound.