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Radiation Exposure During Pregnancy

There are two kinds of radiation exposure that pregnant women worry about. The first is called nonionizing radiation, which comes from household appliances such as microwave ovens and TV sets. The second is ionizing radiation and it comes from x-rays.

Pregnancy Facts

Indoor tanning salons darken the skin with a course of ultraviolet radiation. This radiation can cause skin cancer, premature wrinkling, sun plaques, pigment abnormalities, and eye damage, all of which are bad. If you don't mind getting any of the above, the good news is this: Indoor tanning will not hurt your baby!
The bottom line is this: Don't worry about radiation exposure from home appliances and communication equipment. The levels are so low, your baby will not be affected.

Nonionizing Radiation

These days it is impossible to avoid the radiation that comes from common appliances and communication equipment, such as microwave ovens, radios, televisions, radar, high-voltage power lines, certain burglar alarms, long-distance telephone and telegraph transmissions, electric blankets, heated water beds, taxi dispatch lines, satellite communications towers, video display terminals (VDTs), automatic garage door openers, and electric toys. There's just no way to avoid most of this.

Some research on the effects of this kind of nonionizing radiation has raised a red flag on excessive exposure. High levels of nonionizing radiation in humans has been associated with (but not scientifically proven) to cause genetic damage, spontaneous abortion, and birth defects. But the tested levels have been extremely high, far above what we are exposed to normally. You can sit two inches in front of your TV everyday all day long during your pregnancy and not worry about radiation damage to your fetus (you should be more worried about your sanity). But to err on the side of caution, you can keep your fetus out of harm's way if you…

X-Rays

The ionizing radiation that enters the body through x-rays is the kind that is dangerous to the fetus. Permanent growth retardation, mental retardation, and are all possible if the fetus is exposed to high levels of ionizing radiation. Fortunately, x-rays are not something we are involuntarily subjected to. You know when you're getting x-rays, so you can act to avoid it or reduce the danger:

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth © 2004 by Michele Isaac Gliksman, M.D. and Theresa Foy DiGeronimo. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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