It may surprise you, but having an X-ray during pregnancy is generally considered safe. In most cases, the benefits of the X-ray outweigh the potential risks. When you have an abdominal X-ray during pregnancy, your developing baby is exposed to radiation. If the radiation causes changes in your baby's rapidly growing cells, it's possible that your baby could be at a slightly higher risk of birth defects or illnesses, such as leukemia, later in life. Generally, however, having an X-ray during pregnancy is thought to pose only the most remote risk to a developing baby. Most X-ray exams - including those of your arms, legs, head, teeth or chest - won't expose your reproductive organs or your baby to radiation. A leaded apron and collar also can be worn to block any scattered radiation.
If you need an X-ray, tell your care provider if you are or might be pregnant. Your care provider might be able to do an ultrasound instead of an X-ray. In addition, if you have a child who needs an X-ray exam, don't hold your child during the exam if you are or might be pregnant. Instead, ask another person to take your place.
If you had an X-ray exam before you knew you were pregnant, don't panic. Remember, the risk is very small. It's highly unlikely that you received enough radiation to cause any problems. If, however, you received a radiation treatment for a medical condition -such as radiation to treat cancer - the risks may be more significant. Share any concerns about radiation exposure with your care provider.