Is It Safe To Get X-Ray During Pregnancy?

Is it safe to have X-ray during pregnancy? 

When you come to know of pregnancy, you feel an additional responsibility for keeping your body cocoon safe. 

As your baby is developing inside, you want to make sure that everything that reaches there is safe.

But that does not stop fate from bringing new challenges. During pregnancy, you may require an X-ray due to some unavoidable situation.

Is It Safe To Get X-Ray During Pregnancy?
Is It Safe To Get X-Ray During Pregnancy?

Whether it is a dental treatment or a fracture, you need an X-ray. Even if you are safe and sound, you will encounter an X-ray scanner when you go through airport check-in.

It is important to note that you are constantly exposed to radiation. And that, every radiation is not going to cause cancer.

You might even need to get an MRI while pregnant. Safety of MRI has been studied and conclusions declare it safe1

Whether it be the UV radiation from the sun or your mobile phone, everywhere there are waves, and we are living inside a mesh of networks.

Even though researchers have demonstrated the harmful effects of phone waves, they are not hazardous. 

Whether or not you get an X-ray, there is a 3% risk of malformations in every pregnancy. 

Sun and other environmental radiation exposure of 0.1 rad occur during pregnancy naturally.

So, why does X-ray matter when it is for diagnosis and security purposes?

It is because it can cause cancer and mutate the baby’s rapidly multiplying stem cells. 

Once the stem cells mutate, every organ formed from it will have a defect.

Is It Safe To Get X-Ray During Pregnancy?

When necessary doctors do prescribe X-ray, and it is safe. You need to follow all precautions and wear a lead-coated suit. 

Avoid exposure of the abdominal region when you are getting a scan of other organs. 

When the radiations scatter from the target site, the lead suit absorbs them. It blocks the path of harmful rays reaching the baby.

The effects of anything depend on the dose. 

When the exposure is very limited, it is not likely that any damage will occur.

Fetal age or progression of pregnancy can be a factor for determining the effect of X-ray. 

Researchers got preliminary results suggesting that X-ray during early pregnancy is less harmful than the later stage. 

Your fetus gets some protection from the abdomen skin.

Studies have shown that the risk of cancer in childhood due to prenatal X-ray exists.

Other risks of X-ray during pregnancy for baby are:

  1. Retarded growth if there is exposure in the first 13 weeks after implantation, malformations, brain dysfunction
  2. Low IQ when the exposure is very high
  3. Early stopping of increase in height
  4. Exposure in 8-15 weeks affects the center nervous system even in a smaller dose
  5. A high amount of radiation beyond 26 weeks gestation can cause miscarriage and death after birth (neonatal death)
  6. Learning ability reduces, and the baby can have eye problems if the exposure is more than ten rads
  7. Cancer risk due to prenatal X-ray is not proven for lifelong periods but exist for childhood

X-ray during pregnancy safety and side effects

Throughout pregnancy, with the upper limit of 5 rads, X-ray doesn’t harm the fetus. 

The baby is inside your womb, and the radiation has to pass through and filter across it. 

The fetal dose of X-ray is lesser than what the mother gets. 

Exposure during a pelvic X-ray is about 0.34 rads, and an abdominal X-ray is 0.29 rads for the baby. It is well within the safe limit and causes no harm.

Also read: Can I Eat Fish While Pregnant?

Are all X-rays safe during pregnancy?

1) Dental X-ray during pregnancy

Dental X-ray during pregnancy
Dental X-ray during pregnancy

A dental X-ray only exposes you to 0.01 milli rad and occurs far away from the abdominal region. It is nearly 500,000 times less than the upper safety limit of radiation.

2) Radiation at work during pregnancy

Radiation during pregnancy
Radiation during pregnancy

If you are a radiologist or assist one, then you will have to take additional precautions. 

There are special suits that can monitor the level of exposure to radiation. 

Consider taking maternity leave because constant low exposure adds up to become significant.

3) Computerized topography scan (CT Scan) during pregnancy

CT Scan during pregnancy
CT Scan during pregnancy

In some serious situations, you may need a CT scan while pregnant. The exposure during CT scan is of 0.8 rad. 

It is still not even 1/5 of the safe limit. But doctors generally avoid such procedures.

4) Airport security checks during pregnancy

Airport X ray Scan: Should it be avoided?
Airport X ray Scan: Should it be avoided?

Avoid airport detectors and ask for metal detectors or manual frisking. But there is no harm in crossing an airport scanner too.

Also read: Is It Safe To Drink Coffee While Pregnant?

5) Cancer radiation therapy during pregnancy

Cancer therapy during Pregnancy: Is it recommended?
Cancer therapy during Pregnancy: Is it recommended?

If you earlier were on a radiotherapy course for cancer, your doctor will estimate the fetal exposure. Necessary measures are possible only if you inform the doctor about pregnancy.

6) Chest scan

X ray chest scan during pregnancy- Is it safe?
X ray chest scan during pregnancy- Is it safe?

If you have coughing while pregnant or some infection you may need a chest scan. The exposure is only around 0.6 rad and is completely safe.

7) Limb fracture scan

Bone Fracture X-ray during pregnancy  
Bone Fracture: X-ray during pregnancy  

Similarly, leg fracture or any limb fracture scan will not harm the fetus.

Do not get any unnecessary scans such as for cosmetic surgery. You can wait for every such need for nine months.

Effects of X-ray side during pregnancy 

During the first week of pregnancy before implantation, the consequence of exposure to >1rad is death. 

It is because a single cell can die because of radiation.

If the embryo survives then there a low risk of any non-cancer effect until organ formation starts.

The retardation in growth is severe when exposure is in the first 13 weeks. After 26 weeks, a small amount of radiation poses a low risk. 

Generally, pregnant women can get dental treatment in the second trimester because of near completion of organ generation.

Can having an x-ray cause a miscarriage?

X-rays don’t exceed the safe limit of 5 rads which has not potential risks for the fetus. 

Radiation for cancer therapy or radiation injury from excessive exposure is responsible for defects. 

Fetal exposure to a very high amount of radiation can cause miscarriage. But generally, X rays don’t reach the level, especially when the x-ray is away from the abdomen.

Are airport scanners safe during pregnancy?

Pat down checks and metal detectors are safe options. They are also safe, but repeated exposure is unnecessary. 

You can request a manual security check or using a metal detector. The medications you carry along such as prenatal vitamins must be inside plastic boxes. 

Exposure to radiation can make some medicines ineffective. Do not forget to ask for hand screening of such items.

Vitamins E and C are effective for X-ray exposure recovery. Almonds and oils have Vitamin E, and it can heal radiation injury.



  1. Safety of MRI in pregnancy 


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