X Rays During Pregnancy

The facts about x-rays and pregnancy

Although pregnancy is a special state, it does not come with special immunity. Not only are you prone to illness (no matter how healthy you live), but you're also susceptible to pain and injury, just like everyone else. Unfortunately, you cannot always be treated like everyone else when you're carrying a baby, and that can pose some discomfort or even some problems. When it comes to x rays during pregnancy, there's some confusion surrounding how an unborn baby will be affected -- or if they will be affected at all. Find out how radiation could affect your pregnancy and whether an x ray is a good idea or not.


About Radiation and Pregnancy

Many pregnant women worry about radiation, in all its forms, through their nine months. Is it safe to use a microwave? How far away from the television should you sit? What about air travel? It's true that radiation is all around us, but the amounts are so minimal that there's no reason to abandon your appliances or change your lifestyle.

Nonionizing radiation (the kind found in power lines, radios, microwaves and other unavoidable, everyday equipment) has been shown to cause birth defects, miscarriage and genetic damage, but only in unusually high amounts. A few extra precautions when you're around machines that emit radiation will keep your growing baby safe and calm your fears.

Perhaps the single strongest source of harmful radiation that you may run into during your pregnancy is an x ray, but they aren't necessarily as dangerous as they may seem. An x ray is an example of ionizing radiation, which is particularly hazardous to human tissue and development: mental retardation, growth problems and genetic problems could result from excessive exposure. The area of the body, state of the equipment and competency of the radiologist will all help to determine the degree of risk involved.

When are X-Rays during Pregnancy Alright?

Although it's best to eliminate all risk to your growing baby if you can, don't sacrifice your own health to do so. Although x rays do bring some risk to your pregnancy, in emergency medical situations like a severe organ issue or a broken bone, you should definitely get the x-ray to help with diagnosis. The hazards of x-rays and pregnancy are minimal, and today's sophisticated equipment can often direct the radiation to a very specific area, avoiding your uterus completely.

If you had a dental x ray in pregnancy without realizing the risk, there's likely nothing to worry about. The radiation is concentrated at head level and you wear a lead apron to protect the rest of your body, including your uterus. However, from here on out, you might as well put off any x rays if immediate dental work isn't necessary. If an x ray is recommended after weighing the risks and benefits, take care to protect yourself: only have an x ray taken in a licensed facility with up-to-date equipment and try not to move at all during the scan in order to avoid retakes.