Answer to Question #7201 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"

Category: Pregnancy and Radiation — Exposures not directly to embryo/fetus

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


My 14-month-old son had x rays done on both of his legs and I was holding him. Later I found out that I was two weeks pregnant when the x rays were taken. I was wearing a shield. I read that exposure to any levels of radiation in the first weeks of pregnancy can lead to birth defects. What should I do?


Thank you for your question. It is unlikely you received any radiation exposure since you were not in the beam and since you were wearing a lead apron.

What you read is not true. It takes a significant amount of radiation exposure to the embryo/fetus during those first weeks to cause birth defects—much more than the radiation exposure you would get even if you had the x-ray exams that your son had.

You need not do anything as far as any radiation exposure is concerned.

Kelly Classic
Certified Medical Health Physicist

Answer posted on 24 January 2008. 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.