If you’ve ever gotten an X-ray before, you know that they are slightly dangerous. If they weren’t, you wouldn’t have to wear that heavy metal apron to protect your organs from the radiation. While X-rays might be dangerous, they are also necessary sometimes to diagnose serious problems. Unfortunately, one of those problems could arise during your pregnancy, and you might need an X-ray. If this happens, you’ll probably be worried about the effects of the radiation on your growing baby. However, the radiation that is put out by X-ray machines is actually not that intense at all. The metal gear is just a safety precaution.

While the X-ray would need to put out more than 10 rads per session to be harmful (each session usually doesn’t go above 5), doctors do still recommend that pregnant women wait until after they give birth to go through the X-ray if possible. Although, if the X-ray is absolutely necessary, your doctor will confidently be able to give you one without causing your baby any harm. If you’re still worried about your baby’s physical reaction to the radiation, make sure your X-ray technician knows that you’re pregnant so that she can provide extra shielding for you.

If you’re exposed to consistent radiation where you work, make sure you speak with your employer about alternative tasks for the nine months you’re pregnant. While a few X-ray appointments won’t harm your baby, one appointment every week certainly would, just as daily occupational exposure would. If you must continue working in an area with high radiation during your pregnancy, talk with your doctor about getting a mobile radiation test so that you can document how much you’re exposed to each day. If the amount is below your doctor’s recommendation, you’ll know for sure that your baby is not experiencing any negative side effects.

If you feel that you need an X-ray at any point during your pregnancy, speak with your doctor about the possibility of waiting until after you’ve given birth. For example, f you have a toothache in your last trimester and you’d like to find out if it’s a cavity, you should probably wait just a few more weeks. On the other hand, if you have a mysterious and debilitating pain that feels like it could be a fracture in your first few weeks, an X-ray might be necessary, and it won’t cause any harm.

Source: HE Davies et al: The Risks of Radiation Exposure Related to Diagnostic Imaging and How to Minimize Them. BMJ Volume 342 Issue 47 February 2011

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