Frequently Asked Questions About Pregnancy

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Tests and defects

What are the dangers of X-rays to my unborn baby?

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), the maximum safe fetal radiation dose during pregnancy is 5 rad, or the equivalent of 50,000 dental X-rays or 250 mammograms. CT scans, fluoroscopic studies, and nuclear medicine tests involve slightly higher doses than conventional X-rays, but in general still fall well within the range of acceptable exposure. In each case, the benefits of imaging need to be weighed against the potential risk to the fetus, and if at all possible, tests involving radiation should be avoided in the first trimester of pregnancy.

Can ultrasounds give misleading information?

While it's possible that you may be having a baby boy even if his external sex organs aren't visible in the ultrasound and therefore you may incorrectly think you are having a girl, most technicians won't state your baby's gender unless they are absolutely certain. If the sonogram indicates a due date that seems wrong, you might ask, "Could I possibly have dated the start of my pregnancy incorrectly?" Experts say that an ultrasound done at sixteen weeks is more accurate in regards to gestational age than an ultrasound done later in your pregnancy. When dating the length of a pregnancy, the ultrasound technician can be accurate within a few days. Ultrasounds date your pregnancy from the point of conception, which is a few days different from the point of your last period. Later ultrasounds are more accurate when determining your baby's gender. A very clear image must be obtained for the ultrasound to determine whether you are expecting a boy or a girl, and this may be more difficult to see in the early stages.

What is toxoplasmosis, and should I worry about getting it?

Toxoplasmosis is rare, but it is a virus that can affect your baby in the womb. When cats are allowed to run freely outside they can end up with a parasite that settles in the intestines and is passed on through cat feces. Toxoplasmosis can cause brain damage and other medical problems in your unborn child. Cats also frequent gardens and sandboxes, so wear gloves and wash your hands thoroughly after being outside. Don't clean any litter boxes during your pregnancy (ask your partner or a friend to help you).

Do folic acid supplements really make that much of a difference in preventing certain birth defects?

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC), when taken one month before conception and throughout the first trimester, folic acid supplements have been proven to reduce the risk for an NTD-affected pregnancy by 50 to 70 percent.



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excerpted from:

From Everything Pregnancy Organizer Copyright © 2007, F+W Publications, Inc. Used by permission of Adams Media, an F+W Publications Company. All rights reserved.

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