Radiation is all around us and has been present since the beginning of time. Naturally occurring radioactive materials were discovered in 1896. Less than 50 years later, the physicist Enrico Fermi split the atom, producing the first man-made radioactive materials (Robert Brent MD). We used radioactive materials for beneficial purposes, such as generating electricity, diagnosing and treating medical problems.
Man-made source of radiation from medical, commercial and industrial activities contribute about 310mrem to the annual radiation exposure. One of the largest of these sources of exposure is a CT scan, which account for about 150mrem. Radiation can cause adverse effects, including genetic defects in the children of exposed parents or mental retardation in the children of mother exposed during pregnancy. Most diagnostic procedures expose the ...view middle of the document...
From eighth to the fifteenth week of pregnancy, the embryo or fetus is sensitive to the effects of radiation on the central nervous system but it has to be higher than 30rad (300mSv) before an effect can be seen on the IQ of the developing embryo. Beyond the 20th week of pregnancy, when fetus is completely developed it has become more resistant to the development effects of radiation (Robert Brent MD). According to doctor Brent, MD, PhD., diagnostic study that may involve direct radiation exposure of the developing embryo include:
1. X-ray of the back (L-spine)
2. Intravenous pyelogram (IVP) to examine kidney function
3. Upper GI.
The US National Council on Radiation Protection, fetal risk of malformation increases above background levels at radiation doses over 15rads.
Also, it states that the risk of induced miscarriages or major congenital malformations in embryos or fetuses exposed to doses of 5rads or less is negligible compared to the spontaneous risk among non-exposed women. The Radiation Safety Committee of the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that unborn babies should not be exposed to more than 0.5 rad cumulatively from all sources of radiation during the entire gestational period (Savithiri Ratnapalan MD., 2009).
In conclusion, due to the sensitivity to the embryo-fetus radiation workers should exercise caution and take proper safety measures when performing diagnostic radiographic procedures.
Robert Brent MD, P. (n.d.). Health Physicist Society. Retrieved August 23, 2012, from Pregnancy and Radiation Exposure: www.hps.org
Savithiri Ratnapalan MD., Y. B. (2009, April 28). CMAJ JAMC. Retrieved August 23, 2012, from Doctor, will that x-ray harm my unborn child?: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Sherer, M. A., Visconti, P. J., & Ritenour, E. R. (2011). Radiation Protection in Medical Radiography. USA: Mosby Elsevier.