X-ray risk for unborn | Health - Hindustan Times

X-ray risk for unborn

PTI | ByAsian News International, Washington
May 25, 2004 04:04 PM IST

Exposure to X-rays has much lower risk of having a child born with a birth defect than thought.

A new research conducted at the University of Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children has revealed that women who undergo abdominal X-rays or CT scans during early pregnancy have a much lower risk of having a child born with a major birth defect than estimated by doctors.

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According to Web Md, the researchers surveyed 273 family doctors and obstetricians in Ontario. It was found that a third of them overestimated the risk of major birth defects from a simple abdominal X-ray and about half overestimated the risk from a CT scan.

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The doctors were informed about the 1-3 percent risk for major birth defects associated with these procedures and were asked whether they would recommend that a woman undergo an abortion because of radiation exposure from these procedures.

One percent said they would recommend an abortion to a woman who had abdominal X-rays and 6 percent said they would recommend an abortion following an abdominal CT scan.

According to study researcher Gideon Koren, "A big misperception exists among physicians about the risk to a fetus from diagnostic X-rays. With the levels of radiation used today, there is little risk of a diagnostic procedure endangering the fetus."

Fred Mettler, a member of the International Commission on Radiation Protection said that getting five or 10 CT scans during pregnancy could result in enough exposure to radiation where there might be a risk for developmental problems in the fetus.

"Many people believe that a child's risk of leukemia doubles at fairly low levels of exposure. But you are still talking about a risk of one in 2,000, and that is still pretty small," he said.

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