Is It Safe to Get an X-ray While I’m Pregnant?

By Alyssa Speicher July 15, 2017

The short answer is yes, when x-rays are done correctly, it is almost always safe to have an X-ray during pregnancy. A trickier question to answer (and one you should be asking) is this: is it best for me and my baby to have this X-ray while I’m pregnant?


X-rays while pregnant

As with any X-ray, there is some risk when you have exposure to radiation. However, X-rays use very little radiation, and the benefit of providing your doctor a clear picture of your medical condition so they know how to treat you far outweighs any risks associated with radiation.

Additionally, most X-rays do not present any harm to your baby. X-rays of the arm, leg, head, teeth, or chest should never come in contact with your reproductive organs, and therefore do not produce any known additional risks to your baby.

X-rays of abdomen

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, and your baby depends on you to be healthy. Therefore, if the X-ray is truly necessary for your health and well-being, the risk to your baby of not having the X-ray could be greater than the risk of having it.

UVA diagnostic x-ray

Diagnostic X-ray

How do I know if it’s best?

At UVA Radiology and Medical Imaging, we are dedicated to giving our patients the best care possible. While you are pregnant, this dedication extends to your baby. It is important to not put you or your unborn child at any unnecessary risk, so if you are pregnant or could be pregnant it is always best for you to inform your doctor, regardless of the kind of X-ray you are having.

Sometimes, certain X-rays can be postponed until after pregnancy or replaced with a different kind of medical imaging exam that does not use radiation. But remember, if your doctor deems it is best for you to have an X-ray, it will be best for you and your baby to have the exam.

You can read more about X-rays during pregnancy from the American Pregnancy Association.

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