Med Pro Radiation Moniteringman embracing pregnant wife

How Radiation Affects Pregnancy

Pregnant women who work in facilities prone to radiation exposure should take extra precautions. If the exposure is within a regulatory limit, then it’s less likely to cause any health issues to the fetus. However, if intentional or accidental exposure goes above the threshold, then that might cause some concern.

Usually, the radiation dose to the fetus is lower than the doses to the mother because the surrounding tissue and uterus protect the fetus. Keep in mind that the CDC have found that fetus and embryo are sensitive to ionizing radiation greater than .1 gray or Gy. Radiation susceptibility also depends on the fetal development stage; the health effects of radiation exposure greater than .5 Gy can be quite dangerous despite being considerably low to cause any harm to the mother.

The common health consequences of radiation exposure for fetuses are malformation, impaired brain development, cancer, and growth restriction. 

Because of the negative impact that radiation may have on a fetus, pregnant workers need to wear a radiation badge or dosimeter at all times. Med-Pro provides quality dosimeter badges to help workers detect the amount of radiation that they are exposed to, and alerts them when they exceed a certain threshold.

Here, we’ll go into more detail about how radiation exposure can affect the embryo and fetus.


Does Radiation Dosage Affect Fetal Development?

Cdc supports that the health effects on the fetus depend on the dose of radiation exposure. Approximating the radiation dosage to the fetus requires monitoring external and internal sources to the mother’s body. These sources would often include doses from the mother’s abdomen, doses from ingesting or inhaling radioactive substances that transfer to the bloodstream to the placenta, and doses of the radioactive substance in the maternal tissue around the uterus, such as the bladder.

The majority of radioactive substances that get to the mother’s blood can also be found in the fetal blood. The concentration depends on the stage of fetal development and specific properties.

For example, some substance is required for fetal growth and development like iodine that can be located more in the fetus than the maternal tissue. In addition to that, the dose of the particular fetal organ is an essential factor that determines its impact. For example, Iodine-123 is often found in the thyroid, iron-59 is in the liver, strontium-90 is in the skeleton, and gallium-67 is located in the spleen.

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How Different Doses Affects The Fetus?

IVF embryo

The amount of radiation exposure plays a significant role in how much it impacts the fetus’s overall health.

For example, radiation less than 10 rads or less than .10 Gy will not affect the fetus. Doses between 10 to 50 rad or .10 to .50 Gy can lead to growth restriction in the 3rd to 13th weeks of post-conception as well as implantation failure during the first two weeks of post-conception. Radiation doses more than 50 rads or .50 Gy can lead to failure to implant during the first two weeks, and miscarriages during the 3rd to 24th-week of post-conception.

Keep in mind that the fetus is at an increased vulnerability to intellectual disability around 8 to 15 weeks of post-conception. If there’s radiation exposure with a dose of more than .5 Gy during these weeks, then it can lead to severe intellectual disability for the fetus.

Medical doctors use IQ to measure intellectual levels, so an IQ of less than 70 occurs in 40% of fetuses after exposure to 1 Gy in 8-15 weeks. An IQ of less than 70 occurs in 15% of the fetuses exposed to 1 Gy of radiation from 16 to 25th week.

Another piece of information is that children who are exposed to radiation in the womb will tend to be 4-6% shorter than their peers, which makes sense because radiation exposure does affect the physical development of the fetus.


How Gestational Age Correlates With The Effects of Radiation Exposure

Gestational age does play a role in how the fetus reacts to radiation exposure; however, the doses are still an essential aspect that should not be ignored.

During the first two weeks of post-conception, exposure of more than .1 Gy can lead to the death of the fetus. This is mainly because the embryo is made of multiple cells, and damage to one cell can lead to a domino effect that can kill off other cells. Plus, the blastocyst may fail to implant into the uterus. However, doses less than .10 will not cause any health effects on all the stages of development.

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Does Radiation Exposure Have Carcinogenic Effects?

mitosis and meiosis in cells

Radiation dose more than .1 Gy can increase the risk of cancer in the offspring. This is mainly because the radiation can cause mutations in the developing cells in the fetus, leading to potential cancer. However, this is still a complicated topic. Exposure to radiation in different ages of the offspring has various levels of severity in developing cancer.

 According to a Japanese lifespan study in 2008, individuals who were exposed to the radiation from the atomic bomb at the age of five have a ten-fold greater risk of getting cancer at 50 than those who receive prenatal radiation exposure. Therefore, the risk of developing cancer is lower for prenatal exposure to radiation than for early childhood exposure.

Protect pregnant workers with a dosimeter today!


Any type of radiation exposure to a pregnant woman can transfer to the fetus. It depends on the dose and age of the fetus that determines the severity of the impact. Either way, pregnant workers need to protect themselves against this exposure.

Workers should inform employers about the pregnancy so they can avoid working in locations with a higher amount of radiation. Fortunately, Med-Pro has high-end radiation detection badges at competitive prices to record the amount of radiation that employees are exposed to. Our badges will provide data and alert individuals if they are over a certain threshold.

This device can protect both pregnant and non-pregnant workers from high radiation exposure that can be detrimental to their offspring or their own health.



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