Radiation from X-rays and computers during pregnancy: safe or not?

X-rays and CT scans

  1. X-rays or computed tomography (CT) scans are to be avoided in pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the risks of radiation to the foetus which can cause developmental malformations and childhood cancers.
  2. The amount of radiation used during a CT scan is considered minimal and therefore, the risk of radiation exposure is low.
  3. Inadvertent exposure to X-rays in pregnancy, even in the first trimester, may not necessarily be an indication to terminate the pregnancy.
  4. Avoid X-rays during pregnancy unless ordered by your doctor. You will usually be given a lead apron to shield the developing foetus if an X-ray is a must during pregnancy.

Using computers during pregnancy

All electrical equipment can produce low frequency (non-ionising) radiation. Computer monitors have internal shielding that reduces non-ionising radiation to safe levels. Computer users who sit at a normal distance from their monitors receive extremely low exposures. Current research suggests there are few, if any, health effects caused by non-ionising radiation among computer users.

Many pregnant women are worried that the low-level electromagnetic fields (non-ionising radiation) produced by computer monitors could cause miscarriage or harm their unborn baby. It is heartening to know that studies have shown no evidence that this is the case.

However, avo​id sitting in front of a computer for several hours at a time because you may experience worsening of your backache. If you must spend extended periods in front of the computer, take frequent short breaks to walk, stretch and move to prevent blood clots in the legs (deep vein thrombosis).

"The New Art and Science of Pregnancy and Childbirth", a pregnancy book written by A/Prof Tan ​Thiam Chye, Dr. Tan Kim Teng, Dr. Tan Heng Hao, A/Prof John Tee Chee Seng. KK Women's and Chil​​​dren's Hospital (KKH), a member of the SingHealth​ group. * Available at all major book stores and P​harmacy in KKH.

​See previous page ​for tips on travelling during pr​​​egnancy​.
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