- With Mayo Clinic obstetrician and medical editor-in-chief
Roger W. Harms, M.D.read biographyclose window
Roger W. Harms, M.D.Roger W. Harms, M.D.
"Nothing helps people stay healthy more than the power of real knowledge about health." — Dr. Roger Harms
As medical director of content, Dr. Roger Harms is excited about the potential for Mayo Clinic's health information site to help educate people about their health and provide them the tools and information to live healthier lives.
The Auburn, Neb., native has been with Mayo Clinic since 1981 and is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology. Dr. Harms is a practicing physician and associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology, and his specialty areas include office gynecology, high-risk obstetrics and obstetrical ultrasound.
From 2002 to 2007, Dr. Harms was director for education at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dr. Harms was the 1988 Mayo Medical School Teacher of the Year and served as associate dean for student affairs and academic affairs. He is the co-author of the "Mayo Clinic Model of Education." In 2008, Dr. Harms was presented the Distinguished Educator Award, Mayo Clinic, Rochester.
Dr. Harms is vice chair of the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology and medical editor of the Pregnancy section on this website. In addition, Dr. Harms is editor-in-chief of the "Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy" book, a month-by-month guide to everything a woman needs to know about having a baby.
"My medical education experience has grown out of a love of teaching, and that is what this site is about," Dr. Harms says. "If any visitor to this site makes a more informed and thus more comfortable decision about his or her health because of the information we provide, we are successful."
Healthy pregnancy (19)
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- Leg cramps during pregnancy: Preventable?
- Vaccines during pregnancy: Are they safe?
- see all in Healthy pregnancy
First trimester (3)
- Nausea during pregnancy: A good thing?
- Implantation bleeding: Normal in early pregnancy?
- Birth control pills: Harmful in early pregnancy?
Second trimester (1)
- Fundal height: An accurate sign of fetal growth?
Third trimester (1)
- Hypnobirthing: How does it work?
Pregnancy problems (9)
- Low amniotic fluid: How is it treated?
- Cervical length: Why does it matter during pregnancy?
- Diastasis recti: How does pregnancy affect stomach muscles?
- see all in Pregnancy problems
X-ray during pregnancy: Is it safe?
Is it safe to have an X-ray during pregnancy?
from Roger W. Harms, M.D.
Yes — having an X-ray during pregnancy is generally considered safe. It's highly unlikely that a diagnostic X-ray during pregnancy will harm a developing baby.
Most X-ray exams — including those of the arms, legs, head, teeth or chest — won't expose your reproductive organs to radiation, and a leaded apron and collar can be worn to block any scattered radiation. The exception is abdominal X-rays, which expose your abdomen — and your baby — to radiation. High doses of radiation can cause changes in a baby's rapidly growing cells. In turn, it's possible that these changes could slightly increase a baby's risk of birth defects or certain cancers, such as leukemia, later in life. Remember, however, that the typical dose of radiation associated with a diagnostic X-ray — even one of the abdomen or pelvis — doesn't pose this risk.
Before having an X-ray, tell your health care provider if you are or might be pregnant. Depending on the circumstances, it might be possible to do an imaging study that doesn't involve radiation — such as ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging. In addition, if you have a child who needs an X-ray, don't hold your child during the exam if you are or might be pregnant. Instead, ask another person to take your place.
If you had a diagnostic X-ray before you knew you were pregnant, remember that any potential risk is exceedingly remote. If you had radiation treatment for a medical condition, the risks might be more significant. Share any concerns about radiation exposure with your health care provider. He or she might consult a medical radiation physicist to calculate your baby's radiation exposure.Next question
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- Rajaraman P, et al. Early life exposure to diagnostic radiation and ultrasound scans and risk of childhood cancer: Case-control study. BMJ. 2011;342:d472.
- Kruskal JB. Diagnostic imaging procedures during pregnancy. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Nov. 17, 2011.
- X-rays, pregnancy and you. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/Radiation-EmittingProducts/RadiationEmittingProductsandProcedures/MedicalImaging/MedicalX-Rays/ucm142632.htm. Accessed Nov. 17, 2011.
- Harms RW (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dec. 6, 2011.