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The Truth About Kids and X-Ray Exposure

X-rays might not be her only option.


Photo courtesy of iStock // Tempura

Are doctors ordering too many unnecessary X-rays for kids? It’s a question experts have asked for the past few years. X-rays use ionizing radiation which, if excessive, has been associated with an increased risk of cancer. The risk is small and typically outweighed by the benefits of an accurate diagnosis, but it’s still very real. And it’s especially real for kids who have a higher sensitivity to radiation, which can potentially increase that risk over a lifetime.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently published guidelines recommending that manufacturers include dose reduction features on their X-ray equipment. The guidelines don’t suggest that kids should never get X-rays, but that new equipment should be optimized to reduce radiation on kids. In the meantime, ask your pediatrician whether X-rays are absolutely necessary or if there’s an appropriate alternative, such as an ultrasound.


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