X-Rays During Pregnancy

You may have heard 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 while pregnant?

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 safe while pregnant?

Not all x-rays are the same, but most pose little exposure to the uterus and developing a 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 to let your healthcare provider know you are pregnant if you might need an x-ray.

What are the chances my baby will have adverse side effects?

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 you are pregnant.

Want to Know More?

Compiled using information from the following sources:

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

2. American Academy of Family Physicians


3. American College of Radiology