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The developing human embryo and fetus are more sensitive to radiation damage than an adult. Hence, special consideration must be given to the protection of the embryo or fetus of women who are pregnant.

Female Patients of Childbearing Age

In general, any female patient of childbearing age should be considered potentially pregnant. These patients should ALL be questioned regarding the likelihood of pregnancy prior to performing any x-ray examination. Routine dental x-rays should be delayed until after pregnancy if the patient is found to be, or is likely to be pregnant. Emergency x-rays should only be done after careful evaluation by the licensed health care provider (i.e., the dentist).

Female Personnel of Childbearing Age

An employee should contact Radiation Safety either directly or through her supervisors when she knows or suspects she is pregnant; or when considering becoming pregnant. If an employee does not wish to disclose a pregnancy to her supervisors, confidential disclosures can be made directly to Radiation Safety. The University of Washington Radiation Safety Manual has detailed information on radiation exposure to the fetus.

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