Pregnancy is a complex phase that requires you to take great care of yourself by eating right, avoiding cigarettes and alcohol, and also observing basic hygiene to protect you and your unborn baby from infections. Pregnant women typically visit the hospital or health care providers several times from the first trimester until when their baby is born.
Just like drugs, diagnostic x-rays and radiations in the abdominal area should be done with precaution during pregnancy. At some point in your pregnancy, your doctor may require a diagnostic x-ray to get important and life-saving information about your medical condition.
Of course, diagnostic X-rays have their risks, as they could cause harm to your unborn child but they can sometimes be unavoidable, especially if you show symptoms of life-threatening conditions that require immediate treatment. The truth is that X-rays can be paramount, especially if they will give your doctor pertinent information that is needed to treat you.
The risk of harming your unborn baby through an X-ray greatly depends on a few factors. X-rays performed on your legs, head, hands, teeth or chest will rarely pose any risk to your baby because your reproductive organs are not exposed to the direct X-ray beam. Besides, you will most likely wear a lead apron during the procedure to protect you against radiation. On the other hand, an abdominal x-ray can expose both your belly and unborn baby to the direct beam and this could be dangerous to your baby.
The extent of the damage on your unborn child will also depend on the gestational age of the pregnancy, and the amount of radiation it is exposed to. There are indications that exposure to high doses of radiation during the first two weeks of conception could cause a miscarriage, while exposure at two to eight weeks of pregnancy could result in fetal growth restrictions and birth defects. Your child could also be born with intellectual and learning disabilities if the unborn baby was exposed to radiation between eight to sixteen weeks of gestation.
The possibility of harming your unborn baby through an x-ray is slim and the benefits of a diagnostic x-ray by far outweighs the potential risk it could cause to your baby. That said, you should always express your concern to your doctor if he requests an x-ray while you are pregnant. Ask your doctor if the x-ray could be postponed or be modified to reduce radiation in a bid to protect your unborn baby. You should also talk to your health care provider if you had a diagnostic X-ray before you found out you were pregnant.