Risks Of Radiation Exposure Is Increasing Among Children

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Digital radiography newsU-M research reveals that children are more frequently exposed to medical imaging procedures that utilize radiation. Adam L. Dorfman, M.D., clinical assistant professor of pediatrics and communicable diseases and of radiology at the U-M Medical School says that it was found that the continuous use of these techniques should be noticed by healthcare providers, hospitals and parents. He adds "Despite it is necessary to utilize imaging tests to get good care, the increasing number of these techniques make question arises about whether we are wisely using this technology".

Radiation exposure from the continuous use of imaging techniques has received less attention; despite the widespread arguments about the health hazards of environmental exposures in children, this may be due to limited recent information about radiation hazards between younger patients. This study included 355,088 children under the age of 18 in five large U.S. healthcare markets in order to check how often these imaging procedures are used. The study showed that more than 400,000 imaging procedures were performed within 3 years, in addition to 42.5% of the children receiving at least one of these procedures and many undergoing multiple tests.

Techniques included in this investigation were x-rays that use very low doses of radiation and CT scans that require higher doses.  As a result of this study, by age 18 the child is expected to receive approximately 7 imaging procedures that use radiation. As expected, the study gave more attention to the numbers and types of techniques that were performed, and didn't calculate certain doses of radiation that were received by each child.

Dr. Dorfman comments "We're trying to solve this whole problem by raising awareness and start a national dialogue by identifying the overall scope of this issue. Then the next step is to clearly understand when these tests really add value to the care of a child and when they don't." CT scans is considered the most important procedure in regards to radiation exposure. It is so important to understand patterns of utilization of these tests in children because children and infants are more susceptible than adults to the risks of radiation exposure, like future cancers.

Co-author Reza Fazel, M.D., M.Sc., a cardiologist at the Emory School of Medicine mentions "In children improving tissues are more sensitive to radiation and their longer expected life spanning also allows additional time for the emergence of detrimental effects." Finally, he added that the risk is typically low for any child undergoing a single test. It is found that the principle of ALARA or As Low As Reasonably Achievable must be performed for each imaging procedure in order to minimize radiation doses while still obtaining effective clinical information.


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