Q&A: Are X-rays Safe While Pregnant?
I’m 18 weeks pregnant and I recently injured my foot. I’m afraid to get x-rays while pregnant, but I’m also afraid of ignoring my foot injury. What should I do?
Of course, you’d rather be safe than sorry and skip getting your foot x-rayed, but you might be acting overly cautious. It’s usually safe to get certain x-rays while pregnant. For your own peace of mind, visit your doctor first and see if a diagnosis can be made without an x-ray. If not, just make sure to alert the medical staff that you’re pregnant so they can give you a protective shield. Most diagnostic x-rays (abdominal, dental, and chest x-rays) don’t overexpose the fetus to radiation. The dangerous range for a fetus — meaning where you risk mental retardation and eye abnormalities — is 10 rads (rads are the unit of measurement for absorbed radiation). But it’s rare for a single or a group of diagnostic x-rays to be more than 5 rads. A chest x-ray, for example, is 60 millirads. During the course of an average pregnancy, a mother and her fetus are exposed to 90 to 100 millirads just from natural radiation from sources like the sun. Also, your foot is nowhere near your reproductive organs, so that also makes the procedure less risky.