Smile, baby!

The use of prenatal ultrasounds rose 55 percent for both high-risk and low-risk mothers in Ontario, Canada, between 1996 and 2006, according to a population-based study of nearly 1.4 million women published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal this week.

More than one-third of women delivering “singleton” babies had three or more outpatient ultrasounds during their second and third trimesters. Nearly twenty percent of prospective mothers had more than four ultrasounds in the second and third trimesters.

Two ultrasounds are generally recommended in uncomplicated pregnancies -- one in the first trimester, and another in the second, the report states.

The researchers, from Toronto-area facilities, led by John J. You MD, ventured that their findings are consistent with evidence accumulating in other health fields that "interventions most beneficial to high-risk individuals are frequently directed at low-risk populations."

Reasons for this, in the case of obstetrics, include... "the practice of defensive medicine, the desire to reassure a patient that her pregnancy is progressing normally, patient demand and even the 'entertainment' value of seeing one's fetus."

First baby of 2010?

Who was the first baby to greet the world in 2010? Little Gulrose Abdullah, born to Zahra and Mehboob Abdullah right at midnight on Friday at the MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio, is certainly a contender for the U.S. title.

In Toronto, Canada, Eva Violante was born to mom Christiane Hachey and dad Alexis Violante at 12:00:01 a.m. at St. Michael's Hospital -- that's one second after midnight.

And let's face it, many more babies were born in the early minutes of the first day of the new decade, perhaps somewhere where no one was paying much attention to the time. Welcome to the world, little ones! May it always be kind to you.