Getting an X -Ray While Pregnant: What You Need to Know


Becoming pregnant changes your whole relationship with the world. Suddenly, there are certain foods you can’t eat, activities you can’t do, and even simple chores you have to delegate to someone else. One question many women face when they become pregnant is whether it’s safe to get an X-ray.

Read on to discover the potential risks associated with X-rays while pregnant, how to lower the risk for yourself, and how to make your decision.

Can X-Rays Affect an Unborn Child?

Generally speaking, it is perfectly safe and healthy to get an X-ray taken while you are pregnant. While there is always a slim risk of radiation exposure, most X-rays expose you to only scant amounts of indirect radiation in parts of the body far away from the fetus.

The development of X-ray technology by companies like Patient Image means that the risks are far less serious than in the past. Institutions as venerable and trustworthy as the Food and Drug Administration and the Mayo Clinic certify that X-rays generally have no adverse effects on unborn children.

What Are the Potential Risks of X-Rays While Pregnant?

While the risks are scant enough to be safe, they still exist. It’s important to understand the major risks of getting an X-ray while pregnant before you sign off on one.

This kind of medical imaging process is used for localized images, often of bones. That means the amount of radiation used is small, and the area being imaged is correspondingly limited. If the X-ray is of the mother’s pelvic area, lower back, kidney area, or abdomen, you do run the risk of exposing the unborn child to radiation.

Radiation exposure can exacerbate some of the common complications of pregnancy, including preterm labor and even miscarriage. Radiation exposure can also increase the incidence rate of certain chronic and even terminal illnesses later in life, such as leukemia. Alcohol and drug use, infection, and smoking while pregnant are still the major causes of in-utero harm, not complications from X-rays.

How to Minimize Risk

The first thing you can do to minimize risk is understand what kind of medical imaging has been recommended for you. There’s a big difference between an X-ray, an MRI, and a Pet Scan. They each use different technology and image different parts of the body for different results. Consult with your trusted doctor and ask about the associated risks.

Make sure you’re seeing a radiologist who is specially trained. Radiologists have advanced training and education in medical imaging, and they will be able to consult with authority about whether it’s safe to go forward with your imaging.

How to Make a Decision

Know that most X-rays can be pushed until after pregnancy. Unless there is a pressing medical issue, ask your doctor if it’s safe to postpone your scheduled medical imaging. Weigh the positive benefits of going through with the X-ray against the potential negative side effects. But always keep in mind that those side effects are unlikely marginally adverse at worst.