Is it Safe to Get an X-ray While Pregnant?

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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.  

Ultimately, you and your doctor must weigh the benefits and risks of having an X-ray while pregnant. 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.

Is Radiation Bad for my Baby?

Pregnancy is a delicate time for many women as they strive to have a healthy pregnancy and deliver a healthy child. There is so much information out there to help prepare women for pregnancy and childbirth: what to eat, what not to eat, how to exercise, what to pack in your hospital bag, etc. At times it can seem overwhelming.

We know that having an  x-ray and being exposed to radiation while pregnant can be among these concerns. Thankfully, x-rays use very little radiation and have very small risks over the course of a lifetime. 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.

Additionally, most x-rays do not present any harm to your baby. If the x-ray is pointed anywhere other than your abdomen, it should never come into contact with your reproductive organs. Therefore it will not produce any known additional risks to your baby.

Abdominal X-rays

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 risks associated with radiation for your baby could be outweighed by the benefit of the x-ray on your health and your baby’s health.

Image of a baby in a mother's womb

Making a Decision

At UVA Radiology and Medical Imaging, we are dedicated to giving our patients the best care possible.  This dedication extends to your baby, even while you are pregnant. Obviously, it’s important not to put you or your unborn child at unnecessary risk. So if you are pregnant—or think you might be—it’s always best for you to inform your doctor.

Certain x-rays can be postponed until after pregnancy or replaced with a different kind of medical imaging exam. But talk with your doctor. If they think the benefits outweigh the risks, then you and your baby are likely better off having the exam.

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