Concern about birth defects is deeply rooted in the country's recent history and has brought a surge in ultrasound checks
In the waiting room of a maternity hospital in Hanoi, pregnant women
sit anxiously until their names are called. Many have been here numerous
times to get an ultrasound scan.
Dung, 28, from a village on the outskirts of Vietnam's
capital, is seven months pregnant. "Every month I come here for regular
check-ups and an ultrasound," she says. "If you don't know you are
pregnant and you take the wrong medication, birth defects can easily
occur in the first three months of pregnancy."
of my child's health, that's why I come for regular visits," says
30-year-old Nhung. "There are risks from birth defects mainly from the
environment, and infectious diseases passed from mother to child."
most European countries it is national policy for hospitals to offer at
least one ultrasound during pregnancy to detect the date of delivery
and any abnormalities. However, in developing countries the use of
scanning has increased as it is vigorously promoted by manufacturers and
In Vietnam the marketing and use of obstetric
ultrasound is spreading, according to anthropologist and Vietnam
researcher Tine Gammeltoft from the University of Copenhagen. In a
highly patriarchal society, many seek scans to determine the sex of
their baby, but this is only necessary once or twice and repeated scans
are due primarily to a fear of birth defects.
READ MORE: http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2013/apr/11/agent-orange-vietnam-pregnant-women