Q&A HOPE RICCIOTTI, MD, ANSWERS YOUR QUESTIONS
First published Summer 2012
Q We will be traveling a lot this summer. Can airport body scanners pose a danger to my baby?
According to the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA)/U.S. Department of Homeland Security, advanced imaging technology screening is safe for all passengers, including pregnant women. Each full-body scan produces a radiation dose equivalent to the exposure received in about two minutes of flight at altitude.
Q I’m pregnant, and I talk on my cell phone a lot. Is daily use of a cell phone safe, particularly during pregnancy?
A cell phone uses radiofrequency waves, a form of electromagnetic radiation energy that is located on the spectrum between FM radio waves and microwaves.
The radiofrequency waves are strongest at the antenna of the cell phone and lose energy as they travel away from the phone. The closer the antenna is to the head, the greater a person’s exposure.
Despite concerns that cell phone use might be associated with an increased risk of head and neck tumors, currently no conclusive data show that cell phone use causes health problems.
However, a recent study of more than 13,000 Danish children found an increased risk for emotional problems and hyperactivity in those born to women who used cell phones while pregnant. The study has been criticized because the distraction of cell phones from attentive parenting also may be an explanation for the outcome.
The vast majority of studies show that cell phone use has no ill effects. At this point, there are no definitive data on the risks of using a cell phone during pregnancy. If you are concerned you can limit your exposure by using an earpiece to keep the phone further from you.
Q Do I need to avoid having dental X-rays while I’m pregnant?
Dental X-rays performed for preventive care are best delayed until after pregnancy. X-rays involve some exposure to radiation. Cells that are growing rapidly are most susceptible to the damage of X-rays, and your developing baby is growing rapidly. However, X-rays of your teeth, especially if a leaded apron and collar are worn to block any scattered radiation, generally do not expose your baby to radiation. So if you are having a serious dental problem, such as an infection or tooth pain, the benefits of having dental X-rays during pregnancy outweigh any potential risks.
For more information on your pregnancy, visit www.youandyourfamily.com.
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