Two of the radiology tests that are performed frequently on children are X-rays and computed tomography (CT) scans.
- The amount of radiation delivered is typically adjusted depending on the child’s age, body size, and the part of the body to be imaged.
- If typical scanner settings are used, two to three CT heads may deliver a cumulative dose of 50 to 60 mGy.
- This is, however, not always the case because pediatric protocols may be followed to ensure a lower radiation dose to children during a CT scan.
X-ray imaging provides information about the structures present in the body because it is a form of radiant energy. X-rays can penetrate easily through the body and provide the necessary information to healthcare providers. However, while doing so, children get exposed to low doses of radiation.
Certain kinds of imaging tests expose children to more radiation compared to others. For example, continuous X-ray is done in fluoroscopy exposes a child to more radiation than a single X-ray test.
However, a CT scan exposes children to more radiation than any other imaging test. The scanner is spun 360 degrees to take multiple images of the body; therefore, the test delivers about 200 times higher radiation than a standard X-ray examination.
A standard X-ray exposes to radiation that an individual usually receives from the environment in two to three days, but a standard chest CT exposes a child to two to three years of radiation from the environment in one sitting.
There are other types of medical imaging procedures as well that do not use radiation, such as ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging. Both tests help view soft tissues and internal organs within the body.
Why is radiation especially harmful to children?
Radiological tests are valuable tools for medical evaluation because it helps assess the situation of the affected correctly and provide proper diagnosis accordingly. However, these tests use radiation and when it comes to children, exposure to radiation through these radiological tests can increase the risk of cancer in the later stages.
Because kids are in their developmental stages of life, they are more sensitive and prone to the ill effects of radiation.
Effects of radiation on children
Continuous exposure to radiation causes damage to living tissues and alters DNA structures. In some extreme cases, it can lead to serious and potentially fatal diseases.
- Radiation exposure from an X-ray imaging procedure usually does not produce any symptoms but the risk of developing cancer cells persists for children in later stages.
- Researchers have not been able to detect the dose of radiation that causes cancer in children because cancer can be caused by various factors.
- However, larger doses of radiation affect the reproductive cells of individuals, and small children develop the risk of tumors.
- In some rare cases, children can develop skin burns too.
How to limit radiation exposure in children
During testing, different parts of the body get exposed to radiation, which increases the risk of detrimental effects of radiation. Therefore, shielding can be used to lower radiation exposure. Using a lead apron can shield the other parts of the child’s body from the radiation of the tests.
X-rays are needed for medical evaluation, but certain measures can be taken to protect a child. Consult with the healthcare provider, and only get the imaging tests done if it is an absolute necessity. Allow the tests that have clear health benefits for the child.
- It is not uncommon to observe children getting exposed to radiation doses similar to adults, especially if the pediatric imaging protocols are not followed.
- The imaging test should be using the lowest dose of radiation necessary and only the area required should be exposed to radiation.
- In such cases, parents should consider visiting children’s hospitals because facilities adjust the scanner according to the age of the individual.
- Besides this, measures should be taken not to repeat scans unless specified by the healthcare professional.
- Attachment Theory: What It Is, Stages & the Different Attachment Styles
- Gentle Parenting: What It Is, Techniques & Discipline
- U.S. Nursing Homes Fail to Report Many Serious Falls, Bedsores: Study
- The Younger You Get Diabetes, the Higher Your Risk for Dementia Later
- FDA Grants Full Approval to Paxlovid to Treat COVID-19
- More Health News »
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
US Environmental Protection Agency. Radiation Health Effects. https://www.epa.gov/radiation/radiation-health-effects
Science Direct. Radiation Exposure. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/radiation-exposure
Top How Much Radiation Is in a Pediatric CT Scan Related Articles
CancerCancer is a disease caused by an abnormal growth of cells, also called malignancy. It is a group of 100 different diseases, and is not contagious. Cancer can be treated through chemotherapy, a treatment of drugs that destroy cancer cells.
Cancer 101 SlideshowLearn the basics about cancer including types, causes, how it spreads, symptoms and signs, stages and treatment options. Read about the common type of cancers.
Cancer Risk Factors and CausesThough it's difficult to say why some people develop cancer while others don't, research shows that certain risk factors increase a person's odds of developing cancer. These risk factors include growing older, family history of cancer, diet, alcohol and tobacco use, and exposure to sunlight, ionizing radiation, certain chemicals, and some viruses and bacteria.
Top Cancer-Fighting FoodsExperts have praised certain foods for their ability to reduce cancer risks. Learn which foods and eating strategies may help reduce your risk of developing cancer.
Cancer QuizTake this quiz to learn the causes of cancer. Get the facts about the causes, symptoms, and treatments for the world's most common cancers.
Cancer: Cancer 'Remedies' That Don't WorkYou may have read about an all-natural cure for cancer. While many therapies are helpful, some aren't worth your time or money. Even worse, they may be dangerous. Here are a few you should never try.
CT Scan (Computerized Tomography)A CT scan is an X-ray procedure that combines many X-ray images with the aid of a computer to generate cross-sectional and three-dimensional images of internal organs and structures of the body. A CT scan is a low-risk procedure. Contrast material may be injected into a vein or the spinal fluid to enhance the scan.
Chest X-RayChest X-Ray is a type of X-Ray commonly used to detect abnormalities in the lungs. A chest X-ray can also detect some abnormalities in the heart, aorta, and the bones of the thoracic area. A chest X-ray can be used to define abnormalities of the lungs such as excessive fluid (fluid overload or pulmonary edema), fluid around the lung (pleural effusion), pneumonia, bronchitis, asthma, cysts, and cancers.
CT Scan vs. MRI
CT scan (computerized tomography) is a procedure that uses X-rays to scan and take images of cross-sections of parts of the body. CT scan can help diagnose broken bones, tumors or lesions in areas of the body, blood clots in the brain, legs, and lung, and lung infections or diseases like pneumonia or emphysema.
MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is a procedure that uses strong magnetic fields and radiofrequency energy to make images of parts of the body, particularly, the organs and soft tissues like tendons and cartilage.
Both CT and MRI are painless, however, MRI can be more bothersome to some individuals who are claustrophobic, or suffer from anxiety or panic disorders due to the enclosed space and noise, the machine makes.
MRI costs more than CT, while CT is a quicker and more comfortable test for the patient.
What Is the Difference Between a Bone Scan and a CT Scan?A bone scan and a computed tomography (CT) scan are both used to diagnose various bone conditions. The specific use of a bone scan is to diagnose active bone diseases, such as osteoporosis, Paget’s disease or the spread of cancer into the bone. A CT scan is a high-resolution X-ray that gives detailed information about organ anatomy.
ParentingGood parenting helps foster empathy, honesty, self-reliance, self-control, kindness, cooperation, and cheerfulness, says Steinberg, a distinguished professor of psychology at Temple University in Philadelphia. It also promotes intellectual curiosity, motivation, and desire to achieve. It helps protect children from developing anxiety, depression, eating disorders, antisocial behavior, and alcohol and drug abuse.
Radiation TherapyRadiation therapy is a cancer-fighting technique. In radiation therapy, a radiation oncologist uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells and stop them from growing and dividing. The two types of radiation therapy are external and internal. Potential side effects of radiation therapy include:
- skin redness,
- permanent pigmentation,
- diarrhea, and
- a reduction in white blood cells.
What Are the Top 11 Cancer-Fighting Foods?Foods that fight cancer include phytochemicals, berries, turmeric, onions, and more. Learn how you can lower your risk of developing cancer through your diet.
What Does Radiation Do to Your Body?Radiation is a type of energy. Frequent exposure to even small amounts of radiation could result in the onset of some of the symptoms of radiation sickness.
X-RaysX-rays are a powerful form of electromagnetic radiation that can pass through solid objects. In medicine, X-rays are used to obtain an image of a part of the body. X-rays are necessary to diagnose many illnesses, for example, tumors, arthritis, dental problems, digestive or heart problems, and bone fractures. The side effects, dangers, and risks of having X-rays while pregnant or breastfeeding are provided.