Expert Health Articles

Are X-rays Safe in Pregnancy?

Dr. George AbateDr. George Abate

OB/GYN, BVH Women & Children’s Center

Are X-rays safe for pregnant women? The short answer to that question is yes!

Most medical procedures have risks, including X-rays. In this case, receiving an X-ray means that you will be exposed to a very small amount of radiation. This type of imaging does not increase your risk for birth defects or miscarriage.

In fact, imaging studies with low doses of radiation (less than 5 rads) have no evidence of increasing the risk of birth defects, learning delay, poor growth or miscarriage in your child. Most imaging studies used at Blanchard Valley Health System are far below 5 rads, which would be a maximum amount of radiation allowed during some of your pregnancy. As an example, you would have to undergo 7,000 (unshielded) chest X-rays before you would reach this amount of radiation.

There may be a small increased risk of childhood cancer for those babies that experience X-ray radiation, 1 in 2,000 compared to the 1 in 3,000 background rate. However, the actual potential for a healthy life is very nearly the same as that of other children in circumstances similar to yours but who are not provided the benefit of this study. Remember, if your physician has ordered an X-ray, he or she has considered the risk associated with the study and determined that it is within you and your child’s best interests to proceed.

If you are pregnant and have questions or concerns about an upcoming imaging procedure, don’t hesitate to ask your OB/GYN or radiologist. Or, visit radiologyinfo.org for more information about radiation exposure.