It is very important that pregnant women are aware of the dangers of exposure to radiation that they face on a daily basis. If not all, most pregnant women are exposed to radiation from necessary medical procedures, workplace exposure and diagnostic or therapeutic interventions. We are constantly exposed to small amounts of radiation every day, from both natural and man-made sources such as the sun or microwave oven.
Protecting Your Pregnant Self from Radiation
Do you know why pregnant women are advised to have ultrasound scans instead of getting X-rays or CT scans? That’s because these tests use a special type of X-ray equipment and powerful computers to create pictures of the inside of your body. Unlike the ultrasound, these tests utilise radiation in order to function and that would mean exposing you and your unborn baby to it.
If your job requires you to work with radiation, then it’s time to talk to your boss and inform them of your pregnancy. That may be able to change your responsibilities at work in order to protect you and your unborn baby from such dangers.
Negative Effects of Radiation on You and Your Baby during Pregnancy
A mother’s body usually protects the baby from most radiation that she’s exposed to daily during pregnancy. Babies who are born to mothers exposed to low amounts of radiation during pregnancy are less likely to be at risk for birth defects.
A birth defect is a health condition that babies have at birth, it changes the shape or function of one or more parts of the body. This can cause various problems such as to the baby’s overall health, development and how the body works.
Breathing or swallowing radioactive materials during pregnancy, it could get into your bloodstream and pass through the umbilical cord to your baby. There are also possibilities where it builds up in areas of your baby that are close to your womb like your bladder.
The negative effects it can have on your baby depends on the amount of radiation your body takes in, the type of radiation and the amount of time you’re in contact with it. Babies are most sensitive to radiation between 2 to 18 weeks of pregnancy. Exposure to radiation can:
- Slow down baby’s growth
- Cause birth defects
- Affect the baby’s brain development
- Cause cancer in baby
- Cause miscarriage, the death of a baby in the womb before 20 weeks of pregnancy
You may not feel sick if you happen to be exposed to huge amounts of radiation. However, it can cause severe problems in your baby. Besides that, you might also show signs of radiation sickness such as:
- Vomiting, diarrhoea and bloody stools
- Hair loss
The first thing you should do when you are exposed to a large amount of radiation is to contact your health care provider immediately.
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