Exposure to high-dose radiation two to eight weeks after conception might increase the risk of fetal growth restriction or birth defects. Exposure between weeks 8 and 16 might increase the risk of a learning or intellectual disability.
Depending on the circumstances, it might be possible to postpone the X-ray or modify it to reduce the amount of radiation. If you had a diagnostic X-ray before you knew you were pregnant, talk to your health care provider.
Many things are especially important during pregnancy, such as eating right, cutting out cigarettes and alcohol, and being careful about the prescription and over-the-counter drugs you take. Diagnostic x-rays and other medical radiation procedures of the abdominal area also deserve extra attention during pregnancy.
But sometimes, because of a particular medical condition, your physician may feel that a diagnostic x-ray of your abdomen or lower torso is needed. The risk to you and your unborn child is very small, and the benefit of finding out about your medical condition is far greater.
If you are pregnant, the doctor may decide that it would be best to cancel the x-ray examination, to postpone it, or to modify it to reduce the amount of radiation. Or, depending on your medical needs, and realizing that the risk is very small, the doctor may feel that it is best to proceed with the x-ray as planned.
If radiation or other agents were to cause changes in these cells, there could be a slightly increased chance of birth defects or certain illnesses, such as leukemia, later in life. It should be pointed out, however, that the majority of birth defects and childhood diseases occur even if the mother is not exposed to any known harmful agent during pregnancy.
Scientists believe that heredity and random errors in the developmental process are responsible for most of these problems. There are, however, rare situations in which a woman who is unaware of her pregnancy may receive a very large number of abdominal x-rays over a short period.
This is to prevent damage to your genes that could be passed on and cause harmful effects in your future descendants. It is a good idea to keep a record of the x-ray examinations you and your family have had taken, so you can provide this kind of information accurately.
Treatment To help diagnose and treat musculoskeletal injuries, orthopedic surgeons often recommend x-rays. If you experience an injury while you are pregnant, you may be concerned about the impact that radiation from an x-ray will have on your unborn child.
It has been shown that the amount of radiation received from a single diagnostic x-ray is so small that it is unlikely to pose a risk to a developing baby. They can provide your doctor with important and potentially life-saving information about many medical conditions and are often used to detect bone fractures and dislocated joints after falls and accidents.
You will then be asked to hold still while the machine briefly sends electromagnetic waves (radiation) through your body, exposing the film to reflect your internal structure. These imaging studies are not always practical or available, however, and may not offer your doctor the same information that can be routinely obtained with an x-ray.
The amount of x-ray radiation absorbed by the body is measured in rad or its fraction, milliard. Studies show that exposing an unborn baby to more than 10 rad increases the risk of birth defects, learning disabilities, eye problems, and childhood cancers.
You would have to x-ray your arm or leg more than 5,000 times in order to reach 5 rad of exposure to your unborn baby. Although there is very little risk from a single diagnostic x-ray, steps should always be taken to help minimize a developing baby's exposure to radiation.
Even if you are not pregnant, wearing a lead apron will help protect you from the risk of genetic damage to your reproductive organs. If you are around radiation at work, wear a film badge to monitor the amount of exposure you receive.
This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Generally speaking, it is safe to have an x-ray while pregnant when the benefits of an x-ray outweigh the risks.
However, there are a few different factors to consider when determining the risks, including amount of radiation, the area of the body you are having x-rayed, and the importance of the x-ray to your health. At UVA Radiology and Medical Imaging, we want to give you all the information you need to work with your doctor and make the best decision for you AND your baby.
And it is important to keep in mind that the benefit of allowing your doctor to have a clear image of your medical condition most likely outweighs any potential risk to you or your baby. X-rays of your abdomen will probably put your unborn baby in direct contact with the x-ray beam.
At present, it is not known for sure if the small amounts of radiation used in medical x-ray are enough to harm a baby, so doctors try to avoid giving pregnant women x-rays of the abdomen. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the risks of x-ray radiation to your baby are very small.
At UVA Radiology and Medical Imaging, we are dedicated to giving our patients the best care possible. In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (COG) recommends that pregnant women maintain good oral health by keeping up with such routine dental procedures as X-rays, teeth cleaning, cavity-filling, and root canals.
It's a still a good idea to use a leaded apron to protect your abdomen to minimize your baby's radiation exposure when you've having other parts X-rayed. There are some kinds of X-rays (such as those used to treat disease) that may expose your baby to high doses of radiation, which can cause miscarriage or birth defects as well as some cancers in later life.
Update:The question stated that the person did not know that they were pregnant at the time of x-ray, which means that they did not know that they should not have the x-ray as it was needed for another ailment at that time. If there's even the remotest possibility, an abdominal ultrasound would be done before an X-ray to determine if the patient is pregnant and if so, how far along.
If pregnancy is confirmed, then diagnostic value of X-ray would be determined vs risk for pregnancy and if X-ray is still needed, abdominal shields would be doubled. If you are only a few weeks along, chances are that no, it would not, as embryo presents as clump of tissue at that point and while ultrasound could distinguish fetal form easily, X-ray will not always do so.
You really shouldn't have gotten an x-ray if you knew there was a chance you could be pregnant because the radiation could be harmful to the pregnancy. If you are pregnant, once you start your prenatal appointments you need to let your BEGAN know you had an x-ray done.
An ultrasound can actually show a pregnancy when the woman is just a few weeks along. My doctor wants to schedule me for an ultrasound to see where my baby has implanted, and I'm only 6 weeks along.
If there's even a chance that you're pregnant they cover your stomach area with a lead, heavy blanket-type thing because the radiation from the x-ray would be harmful to your baby, so I'm not sure you ever could really use this as a detection method. When you’re in the family way, it’s of utmost importance for you to be in optimal health for your benefit as well as your baby’s.
Knowing that radiation is involved, you may be wondering if it’s okay for you to have an x-ray when there’s a growing child inside your womb. For instance, having an x-ray of your teeth won’t cause any radiation to be beamed to your abdominal area, provided that it’s done correctly.
Without any doubt, having an x-ray of your stomach, lower back or pelvis can expose your baby to radiation during the diagnostic procedure. However, it’s important to know that medical professionals say that the amount of radiation that may reach your baby during an x-ray of the abdominal area is insignificant.
In other words, it is unlikely for it to cause some concerns of many pregnant women, such as miscarriages and deformities or abnormalities with their babies. But do take note that it is possible for deformities to strike even without exposing the baby to radiation and the other factors mentioned.
But for your peace of mind, ask your doctor if it’s perfectly fine to have an x-ray of your abdomen postponed, until such time that your baby is already delivered. To keep your worries at bay, doctors say the risk of not undergoing an x-ray procedure that is deemed imperative by a medical professional is far riskier than exposing the unborn child in you to radiation.
Also, do tell your doctor if a similar radiologic procedure has been performed previously so that unnecessary exposure to radiation may be avoided.