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The Bump Editors

Are X-Rays Safe While Pregnant?

Learn when radiation reaches dangerous levels and what's considered safe.

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 baby to radiation. The dangerous range for a fetus—meaning where you risk intellectual disability 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, mother and baby are exposed to 90 to 100 millirads just from natural radiation from sources like the sun.