Are X-Rays Safe During Pregnancy?

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X-Rays and pregnancy

Posted by The MAB Team on 5/30/2011 to Pregnancy
Sometimes x-rays are necessary during pregnancy, but your doctor must weigh heavy on the necessity.  X-Rays may pose significant risks to an unborn child.

Whether intentional or not, an unborn child exposed to x-rays are exposed to electromagnetic radiation.  Ultra-violet radiation and microwaves have degrees of energy, x-rays possess the most.  X-rays can cause the material of which it is passing through to become charged.  This could result in damage of cells or DNA in living matter.

According to Health Canada, the safest x-rays to receive are those involving the chest, teeth, neck and limbs.  Although x-rays to abdomen, lower back, pelvis  and kidneys may direct radiation near or through the fetus, these generally use little amounts of radiation.

x-rays to be careful of are the abdominal or pelvic CT.  If it can not be avoided and must be done there are techniques to expose the fetus to as little radiation as possible.  In Canada, a fetus is exposed to about 0.5mGy of natural background radiation. 

Due to the rapidly changing and dividing cells, a fetus stands a greater chance of damage.  If there is a change, there is an increased chance of birth defects, including leukemia.  Damage to the DNA could result in childhood cancer, mental defects, and miscarriage. 

Reduce the risks of exposing your fetus by making sure to tell your doctor you pregnant prior to any x-rays.  If your unsure and think you may be pregnant, take a test.  There are tests that are ultra sensitive for earlier detection. 

If you must have an x-ray during pregnancy, make sure to inform the technician so they can take appropriate protective measures.

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