NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


November 28, 2007

A pregnant woman today is a lot more likely to undergo a radiological test -- such as an X-ray or CT scan -- than a woman who was pregnant a decade ago, according to a new study being presented at a Radiological Society of North America conference.

Elizabeth Lazarus, a Brown University radiologist and study leader, and her colleagues looked at all the pregnant patients who came through her institution between 1997 and 2006.  Their findings:

  • The number of deliveries per year rose from 8,661 to 9,261 during that time.
  • But the number of patients scanned rose to 447 from 231, and the total number of scans more than doubled, to 730 from 325.

Lazarus said the fetuses weren't exposed to unsafe levels of radiation. And she added that the scans are done for important medical reasons, and can even be life-saving. Still, she suggested there may be times when a pregnant woman and her doctor should consider alternatives -- such as seeking an MRI, which doesn't rely on radiation, rather than a CT scan, when checking for appendicitis.

Source: Jacob Goldstein, "More Pregnant Women Exposed to Scans -- and Radiation," Wall Street Journal, November 27, 2007.

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