Medical radiation and pregnancy

Health Phys. 2008 Nov;95(5):551-3. doi: 10.1097/01.HP.0000327647.74948.49.


Many pregnant women are exposed to radiation either as a patient or as an employee. Ignorance of the issues surrounding the radiation exposure of pregnant females is encountered among medical and other professionals, often leading to undue concern. The exposure of pregnant patients has to be justified and the risk/benefit carefully assessed. Diagnostic radiological and nuclear medicine procedures do not usually pose an increased risk to the fetus but therapeutic procedures and radiotherapy may do so. Risks are greatest during organogenesis and the first trimester. Informed consent and counseling of the patient are important. Pregnant females working with radiation also need separate consideration and careful monitoring. The author has personal experience of this working as an interventional radiologist throughout pregnancy. Education of professionals working with radiation and in medicine is essential and international organizations in radiation protection should continue to provide and support this role.

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Radiation-Induced / etiology
  • Abnormalities, Radiation-Induced / prevention & control
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Female
  • Fetus / radiation effects
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy / radiation effects*
  • Radiation
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Radiation Protection / methods*
  • Risk
  • Risk Assessment / methods