People here in Syracuse are often concerned about the possible hazards of using too many X-rays on pregnant women and infants. Many radiologists have been known to tell people these concerns are overdone. A recent study shows otherwise and has raised concerns among the Syracuse community about this problem.
ScienceDaily has reported “Experts Urge Even Greater Caution in Use of X-Rays During Pregnancy and Infancy”, http://bit.ly/hJ4Gz5. A new study published in the British Medical Journal encourages clinicians to be careful about using x-rays on pregnant women and infants because of the potential for a slight increase in the risk of children developing cancer, http://bit.ly/ejrHt7. This UK-US collaborative study discovered small increases in risk of cancer for children who had x-rays at ages less than three months and in children whose mothers had undergone an x-ray while pregnant. The same researchers reported no increased risk from ultrasound scans.
In previous studies of children born between the 1940s and the 1970s, at a time when radiation doses were likely to be higher, it was found in utero x-ray exposure was associated with an increased risk of childhood cancer, particularly leukemia. The effect of medical radiation on young children has not been as clear. It has been reported that although diagnostic x-rays and other radiological imaging procedures to the abdomen and pelvis of pregnant women are rare, there have been concerns about the growing use of computed tomography (CT) scans and other types of higher-dose imaging procedures on younger children.
In this study researchers compiled data on 2,690 children with cancer and 4,858 healthy children from the UK Childhood Cancer Study (UKCCS). These children were born between 1976 and 1996. The data on exposure to radiographic and ultrasound examinations were collected from medical records. In the study 305 children received 319 radiographic and related examinations while in utero and 170 children received 247 diagnostic x-ray examinations in early infancy. Overall a total of 13,723 in utero and 138 early infant ultrasound scans were carried out. The researchers measured the risk of childhood cancer overall, and leukemia, lymphoma, and central nervous system tumors in particular. The study results showed a slightly heightened risk following in utero exposure to x-rays for all cancers and for leukemia.
The researchers for this study have concluded: “Our results, which indicate possible risks of cancer from radiation at doses lower than those associated with CT scans, suggest a need for cautious use of diagnostic radiation imaging procedures to the abdomen/pelvis of the mother during pregnancy and in children at very young ages.” Therefore people here in Syracuse should join people elsewhere in showing extra caution about X-rays for pregnant women and infants.
Photographer: renjith krishnan
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