Answer to Question #9686 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"
Category: Pregnancy and Radiation — Flying
The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:
I am wondering if flying now, after what happened to the reactors in Japan after the tsunami, is more risky than before the catastrophe. I am flying one month after the tsunami from the United Kingdom to Poland with a two-year-old and I am pregnant so I am not sure if it is safe now. I am thinking about cancelling the flight. We know that the reactors are releasing radioactive gases into the atmosphere and traces of iodine have been detected in the United Kingdom.
Any radioactivity from the Japanese nuclear plant event will be far less than the very small exposure to radiation that everyone receives from cosmic rays while flying. The flight from the United Kingdom to Poland will expose you, your child, and your fetus to an extremely small amount of radiation. See a discussion about cosmic radiation on our RadiationAnswers website. Your risk for birth defects or miscarriage is not increased over the background risks that all healthy pregnant women face.
The background risks for pregnant women with no personal or family history of reproductive or developmental problems is 3 percent for birth defects and 15 percent for miscarriage. All pregnant women face these risks, which we cannot yet prevent.
Good luck with your pregnancy.
Robert Brent MD, PhD