X-Rays During Pregnancy

Pregnant woman reviewing her x-ray

You may have heard that getting an x-ray during pregnancy can harm your baby. This can be true, but in some cases not getting an x-ray can harm you  more than it can harm your baby. Remember, a healthy mom means a healthy baby.

Is it safe to receive x-rays during pregnancy?

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, x-rays are generally safe during pregnancy, but there is quite a bit of controversy surrounding this issue. Studies have been conflicting, and therefore x-rays should only be done when the benefits outweigh the risks. X-rays can give your health care provider important and even life saving information about numerous medical conditions. Like many things, x-rays can have risks as well as benefits.

Are all x-rays during pregnancy safe?

Not all x-rays are the same, but most pose little exposure to the uterus and developing fetus. With dental x-rays there is hardly any exposure to any part of the body except the teeth. X-ray examinations on the arms, legs, or chest do not expose your reproductive organs to the direct beam. However, x-rays of the torso, such as the abdomen, stomach, pelvis, lower back and kidneys, have a greater chance of exposure to the uterus. It is always important that you let the healthcare provider know that you are pregnant if you might need an x-ray.

What are the chances that my baby will have an adverse effect if I had x-rays during pregnancy?

According to the American College of Radiology, no single diagnostic x-ray has a radiation dose significant enough to cause adverse effects in a developing embryo or fetus. Some common diagnostic procedures include dental, chest, CT scan (head/chest), and abdominal view.

**Always let your health care provider know that you are pregnant.

Last Updated: 01/2014

Compiled using information from the following sources:

William’s Obstetrics Twenty-Second Ed. Cunningham, F. Gary, et al, Ch. 41.

American Academy of Family Physicians, http://familydoctor.org/

American College of Radiology, http://www.acr.org/