Tuesday, June 18 2013, 09:08 AM MDT
Increase In Children Undergoing Diagnostic Imaging Scans
(CBS) A new study shows an increasing number of children are undergoing CT scans, MRI’s and other diagnostic imaging procedures, including procedures that carry a potential cancer risk.
Grace Hickson's great-grandson Andre has his first x-ray when he was one and a half years old.
“He couldn't breathe and I took him to another doctor and they x-rayed and that's when they told me he had pneumonia,” Grace Hickson says.
A new study in the journal Pediatrics finds the number of children who have undergone diagnostic imaging scans, including x-rays, MRI’s, CT scans and ultrasounds, has increased significantly over the past nine years.
Higher radiation procedures, like CT scans rose 34% during the study.
The findings raise concern because other studies have linked radiation exposure to increased risk of cancer.
“Children are all growing so that means their cells are all rapidly replicating so that means they are more at risk for radiation than an adult,” Director of Pediatrics Ryan Center Dr. Jessica Sessions says.
Imaging procedures with higher amounts of radiation were most frequently performed in the hospital and emergency room settings.
Researchers didn't determine how much of the imaging was truly necessary. Health experts say parents should question their child's doctor before agreeing to any scan.
“Ask them well how much radiation is involved, and is the test really necessary,” Dr. Sessions says.
Hickson says she was aware of the radiation risk, but felt the test needed to be done.
“Unfortunately a lot of time children have to have x-rays to find out exactly what's wrong,” Hickson says.
She says she tries to do whatever is best for Andre’s health.
The study found the three most common reasons for the scans were abdominal pain, headache and head injury.