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Ionising radiation

Environmental Radioactivity - Medicine - Occupational Radiation Protection - Nuclear Hazards Defence

Ionisierende Strahlung

Medical use of radiation during pregnancy

If a pregnant woman is exposed to ionizing radiation, there is a risk of radiation-induced malformations and developmental disorders for the unborn (termed as deterministic or non-stochastic effects, which have dose thresholds below which the effect does not occur). There is also an increased risk of cancer or leukaemia for prenatally exposed children (termed as stochastic effects).

In order to protect the unborn, every woman of childbearing age has to be asked, before the use of ionizing radiation in medical diagnosis or treatment, whether a pregnancy exists or could exist (in line with the German X-ray Ordinance / Radiation Protection Ordinance).

If pregnancy is confirmed or cannot be excluded, there is urgent need for a careful risk-benefit evaluation which refers to the medical benefit of the mother of having the medical application of radiation and the radiogenic risk to the unborn. If possible, the examination should be delayed until the end of pregnancy or the possibility of alternative methods (with less or no dose, such as ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging) should be considered.

According to current scientific knowledge, there is no risk of deterministic damage below a whole-body dose for the unborn of 50 mSv. With a single "standard" X-ray or nuclear medicine examination, the dose of 50 mSv for the unborn is not exceeded

State of 2017.03.15

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