Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.
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Has Radiation Harmed My Baby?

Tuesday, 29 Jun 2010 09:36 AM


Question: I just found out I'm pregnant. About two weeks ago, I had some mild respiratory difficulty and they gave me a chest X-ray. Now I'm terrified — Is my baby in danger due to radiation?

Dr. Hibberd's Answer:

First of all, get rid of this stress. Your fear is totally unfounded and unnecessary. Your baby is in no danger from the minimal direct radiation exposure you received, or the minimal (if any) scattered or reflected exposure the rest of your unshielded body may have been exposed to.

The X-ray beam for a chest X-ray is a targeted beam that’s directed at your chest only. Your abdomen and pelvic areas were not "exposed." X-ray beams and visible light behave in similar ways. Imagine standing on a beach at night, facing the ocean with a flashlight in your hand, and your friend standing at your side. You shine the light directly in front of you. Is your friend's face illuminated by the light? Not much, and X-rays behave the same way.

Without shielding, you may be exposed to minimal amounts of scatter reflection, but this is certainly not worth worrying about. Although unnecessary X-rays should be avoided, there is no evidence of harmful fetal effects from any single diagnostic X-ray exposure. Log on to familydoctor.org for more information.




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