The question of radiation and pregnancy is likely to ring alarm bells, with reference to several processes that are thought to involve radiation – X rays, use of microwaves or cell phones, use of computers and so on.
There is the apprehension that radiation will result in birth defects in the unborn baby or that risk of certain conditions later in the baby’s life may increase.
According to the CDC’s factsheet on radiation and pregnancy
- A small dose of radiation (the amount produced by about 500 or fewer chest X rays) is not going to cause birth defects, and that experts seem to agree on this. What this amount of radiation in pregnancy may do however, is that it could raise slightly, the chances of the baby getting cancer later in life.
- The greatest concern, with radiation in pregnancy is during the first two weeks after conception radiation could result in death of the baby since the embryo consists of only a few cells at this stage.
- Large amounts of radiation to the fetus up to 18 weeks of gestation could result in birth defects, particularly brain damage such as severe mental retardation or low IQ and also stunted growth. But this refers to high amounts of radiation such as when the atom bomb was dropped on Japanese cities during the Second World War.
- After 26 weeks gestation, the effects of radiation in pregnancy are the same as if was a new born baby exposed to the radiation.
- · More information about radiation during pregnancy can be obtained by calling the CDC public response line at 1-800-311-3435.
Additionally there are other concerns regarding radiation in pregnancy that can commonly worry people. For instance women who have certain jobs have anxieties regarding the possible consequences to the fetus. Women who work as X ray technicians or as part of the airport security checking procedures may be concerned that there could be possible harm to their babies.
The fact is that unless the radiation is received directly to the abdomen there is little harm that can be caused to the baby by small doses or radiation.
There are also other concerns with radiation and pregnancy and whether commonly used objects could be dangerous during those nine months – whether it is safe to use a computer or a laptop; microwave or a cell phone? Whether it is safe to fly during pregnancy?
Neither a computer monitor nor a laptop is likely to result in radiation when pregnant. However laptops can cause overheating in the abdominal region which women should be careful of preventing. Cell phones and microwaves are also seen to be safe during pregnancy and so with airplane flying; none of which results in any significant radiation exposure.
There is another concern with regard to radiation and pregnancy – whether certain other diagnostic procedures are safe to perform during this time. Procedures such as MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) may cause concern however the field strengths used for this procedure are strictly set and enforced and are not strong enough to cause any damage.