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Premier Women's Health Obstetrics and Gynecology
FAQ
 
How do X-rays affect the unborn child?

During most X-ray examinations, such as those for arms, legs, teeth, or chest, your reproductive organs are not exposed to the direct X-ray beam. These procedures when done properly do not involve any risk to the unborn child. However, X-rays of the mother’s lower torso, including abdomen, stomach, pelvis, lower back or kidneys, may expose the unborn child to the direct X-ray beam. These diagnostic X-rays are of more concern.

It is known that the unborn child is very sensitive to the effects of things like radiation, certain drugs, excess alcohol and infections. One reason is that the cells of the embryo are rapidly dividing and growing into specialized cells and tissues. If radiation or other agents were to cause changes in these cells, there could be a slightly increased chance of birth defect of certain illnesses, like leukemia, later in life. There is scientific disagreement about whether the small amounts of radiation used in diagnostic radiology can actually harm the unborn child.

The majority of birth defects and childhood diseases occur even if the mother is not exposed to any known harmful agent during pregnancy. Scientists think that heredity and random errors in the developmental process are responsible for most of these problems.

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