Answer to Question #4761 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"
The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:
The first day of my last period was 5 August. On 22 August my 16-month-old had three x rays done on his face to check for a broken nose. I was in the room and helped to hold him down on the table. I was wearing a lead waist apron during the x rays. At the time, I did not know that I was pregnant. It is 5 September and I just had a positive pregnancy test over the weekend. Should I be worried about birth defects to the unborn fetus?
Your circumstances occur very commonly and it can be upsetting. But accurate information is frequently the antidote for concern. The x-ray machine uses a cone to project the radiation in a small area so that anyone holding the patient has practically no exposure to her body. You also were wearing a lead apron, so any exposure that you may have received would be insignificant with regard to affecting your fetus. Also, your embryo was only a few days old, which is a stage that is much less likely to be malformed by even a high dose of radiation. So your reproductive risks have not changed following your experience in the x-ray department.
If you have no personal or family history of reproductive or developmental problems you began your pregnancy with a 3 percent risk for birth defects and a 15 percent risk for miscarriage. Neither you nor I can change these background risks. Good luck with your pregnancy.
Thank you for contacting the Health Physics Society website ATE feature.
Robert L. Brent MD, PhD, Dsc (Hon)