Answer to Question #10300 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"
The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:
Is a chest x ray during pregnancy dangerous? I am eight weeks pregnant. I have to go for this test and there is no protection like a shield or an apron available. Please tell me if it is okay to have the x ray without any shield. I hope it won’t affect my baby. I am really worried.
Your question is a simple one to answer. I understand your concern and I will try to explain why your anxiety is not warranted in your present situation.
When you receive a diagnostic x ray of your chest at a qualified facility, the x-ray exposure is not to your embryo. The "scatter" that might reach the embryo would be extremely small and would not represent an increased risk for birth defects or miscarriage to your embryo. The most important characteristic of x rays that concerns us is the dose. You may not know that we ourselves are radioactive and we are exposed to many sources of natural radiation that we cannot avoid. Your developing embryo will not receive a dose that would result in any measurable increased developmental risk.
If you are healthy, young, and have no reproductive or developmental problems or family history of reproductive or developmental problems your risk for birth defects is 3 percent and for miscarriage, 15 percent. These are background risks with which every woman begins her pregnancy. Neither you nor I can change these risks. Good luck with your pregnancy.
Robert L. Brent, MD, PhD