The Effects Of Radiation On A Fetus

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Ionizing radiation can have many different effects on a fetus. There are many significant factors to consider when looking at an overall effect of radiation on a fetus in each trimester of pregnancy. The effects of radiation on a fetus vary dramatically depending on gestational age, the dosage of radiation they receive, and the manner in which they were exposed.
The first trimester of pregnancy is the most sensitive trimester for a developing fetus. There are a few different ways that mothers and fetuses can be exposed during this sensitive time. They can be exposed accidentally, knowledgably, or with no knowledge of the pregnancy. An example of an accidental exposure is a radiation accident, like Chernobyl. There was no way to record the actual dosage of radiation that each child received in utero, or the amount of women who had spontaneous abortions after being exposed to the accidental radiation. It has been shown that those babies “exposed during the most sensitive period of pregnancy performed less well [on verbal IQ tests] than those who were exposed after week 16 of pregnancy” (Heiervang 213). There appear to be more significant birth defects and abnormalities in fetuses who were exposed prior to the 16 week gestational mark.
Another way that a fetus could be exposed to ionizing radiation if the mother had no knowledge of the pregnancy prior to a test involving radiation. The threshold of radiation before becoming harmful to the infant is 100 mGy. In a study where women were exposed to barium enemas before they knew they were pregnant “suggest that barium salts are very unlikely to be of any concern in pregnancy” (Han 587). It seems that if fetuses are exposed to less than 100 mGy at any point in the pregnancy the outcome...

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...of IR exposures” (Soklov 15701). It is important for researchers to be able to study stem cells so that they can continue to find measures that can prevent cell death and malformations in mothers and fetuses.
Many of the experts agree that the dose should be kept as low as possible with minimal exposure to the fetus of any age. It has been shown that fetuses before 16 weeks are the most sensitive to any dose of ionizing radiation and have been shown to have lower IQ’s and verbal scores than those exposed after 16 weeks. Fetuses exposed after 16 weeks have the same amount of risk as children up to 10 years old getting cancer. It is very important to take in to consideration gestational age, shielding, the position of the x-ray tube and the amount of necessity that is considered in taking a radiographic image or performing a radiographic procedure in a pregnant woman.
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