Answer to Question #5607 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"

Category: Pregnancy and Radiation — Proximity to radioactive persons

The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:


I am about five weeks pregnant and my husband and I are living with my parents while waiting for our new home to be completed. My mother was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and will have surgery. She will start radiation treatments for cancer soon after surgery and I don't know if it will be harmful to be around her during that time.


I am sorry to hear that your mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. You know that proper treatment can be very successful in this illness. She needs your support and hugs and you need not be concerned about your mother exposing you to any radiation. Your mother is not radioactive after treatment, not even for a split second. The ionizing radiation leaves energy-destroying effects that cure or attempt to cure the disease, but do not make her radioactive.

If you are healthy and have no personal or family history of reproductive or developmental effects, you began your pregnancy with background risks that are 3% for birth defects and 15% for miscarriage.

Good luck with your pregnancy and your mother's cancer treatment.

Robert Brent, MD, PhD

Answer posted on 17 July 2006. The information posted on this web page is intended as general reference information only. Specific facts and circumstances may affect the applicability of concepts, materials, and information described herein. The information provided is not a substitute for professional advice and should not be relied upon in the absence of such professional advice. To the best of our knowledge, answers are correct at the time they are posted. Be advised that over time, requirements could change, new data could be made available, and Internet links could change, affecting the correctness of the answers. Answers are the professional opinions of the expert responding to each question; they do not necessarily represent the position of the Health Physics Society.