Answer to Question #5803 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"
The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:
When my daughter was about 16 months old she had chest x rays due to a bad cough and fever. They put her in a plastic thing that held her upright and still. I was so worried about her being scared that it never crossed my mind that the x rays could cause her harm in the future. I can't remember but I think they took three or four views. She is fine now but I worry that I should not have let her had the x rays. How much radiation did she get and is it a safe amount for a child? Does this increase her risk of breast cancer or leukemia? Is it safe for children to get annual dental x rays?
The radiation dose your daughter received from chest x rays was extremely small, about 0.05 mSv (mSv = millisievert). There are no known risks from doses in this range. The average American gets about 3 mSv per year from unavoidable natural environmental radiation. So your daughter's dose from medical x ray was equivalent to about one week of natural background. The health benefit she received from that exposure far outweighs any possibility of adverse effect. There will be no detectable increase in her risk of cancer later in life.
The American Dental Association, in cooperation with the Food and Drug Administration and the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology, has posted guidelines for use of dental x ray in a typical practice. These are found at the ADA website.
S. Julian Gibbs, PhD, DDS
Answer posted on 27 September 2006. The information and material posted on this website is intended as general reference information only. Specific facts and circumstances may alter the concepts and applications of materials and information described herein. The information provided is not a substitute for professional advice and should not be relied upon in the absence of such professional advice specific to whatever facts and circumstances are presented in any given situation. Answers are correct at the time they are posted on the Website. Be advised that over time, some requirements could change, new data could be made available, or Internet links could change. For answers that have been posted for several months or longer, please check the current status of the posted information prior to using the responses for specific applications.
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