Dr. MJ Bazos MD,
Pregnancy: Are X-rays
Safe During Pregnancy?
Is it safe to have x-rays while I'm
Yes, x-rays are generally safe in pregnancy. If
your doctor finds you need x-rays for a medical problem or injury, it's OK to
have them. It's better for your baby that you be healthy.
What are x-rays?
X-rays are a form of radiation. This kind of
radiation is invisible. X-rays are used to make "pictures" of the bones and
organs. They have been associated with a very small increased risk of cancer,
particularly leukemia, for an unborn baby. But the risk is very small.
Do all types of x-rays have the same
amount of radiation?
No. Different types of x-rays have different
amounts of radiation. Medical x-rays use very small amounts of radiation. If
you're sick and your doctor needs an x-ray to properly treat you, you should
have the x-ray.
I found out I'm pregnant after I had
an x-ray. What should I do now?
You don't really need to do anything. The risk
to your baby from radiation is so small that most doctors would treat your
pregnancy just like any other pregnancy. If you're really worried about your
baby's risk, a radiation physicist can figure out exactly how much radiation
your baby has been exposed to. Usually, an unborn baby shouldn't be exposed to
more than 5 rad. Because most x-rays cause much less radiation than this, talk
with your doctor to see if it will even help to find out the exact number of
rads your baby was exposed to.
Some women are so afraid of radiation that they
want to have an abortion after a single x-ray. But this isn't necessary. The
risks are so small, it's not necessary to have an abortion just because you had
an x-ray during pregnancy.
If I have an x-ray, will my baby be
born with a deformity?
Medical x-rays don't increase the number of
babies born with such deformities. Even with no x-ray exposure, 4 to 6 percent
of babies are born with some deformity. Most of these are minor, like skin tags
or an extra finger or toe.
Could I have another test instead of
You might be able to have an ultrasound exam
instead of an x-ray. Ultrasound, which is also called sonography, is the best
alternative to an x-ray. Your doctor will use ultrasound if possible. No harm to
an unborn baby has ever been reported from ultrasound. And magnetic resonance
imaging (often called MRI) is safe to use after the first trimester of
pregnancy. Both of these methods can be used sometimes instead of x-rays.
Although ultrasound and MRI are used if possible, sometimes an x-ray is your
doctor's best or only choice for properly treating you.