Worried About Kids’ Overexposure to Radiation, FDA Asks for Safer X-rays
Children are not just miniature versions of adults. Their rapidly-developing bodies have different physiological sensitivities, and pediatric medical care should reflect this.
However, for years, the same CT scans, fluoroscopy procedures and other X-ray imaging techniques have been used on both adults and children. Now, concerned about cancer diagnosis and other potential ill-effects of kids’ exposure to radiation, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is calling for X-ray imaging devices that take into account the unique health care needs of children.
Cancer-Causing X-ray Radiation Hits Children Harder Than Adults
From CT scans to conventional X-rays, there is no doubt that imaging saves lives. Doctors rely on X-ray technologies to diagnose internal conditions and to develop effective surgical plans. But, despite their utility, x-ray imaging devices need to be used with caution, as they deliver a powerful dose of radiation when used on patients. This radiation can be especially harmful to children.
“Children are not little adults,” Dr. Marta Hernanz-Schulman, chair of the American College of Radiology Pediatric Imaging Commission, said in a recent interview with HealthDay News. “Their bodies are more sensitive to radiation, because they are growing.”
Dr. Hernanz-Schulman also added that children absorb more radiation than adults when exposed to the same doses, and explained that the effects of radiation are cumulative, stacking up as a person is exposed to more radiation over time. “Most of the effects of radiation are felt decades down the line,” said Dr. Hernanz-Schulman.
Recognizing these realities of pediatric X-ray imaging, in May the FDA released a series of recommendations to the manufacturers of radiation-producing medical scanners. Makers of X-ray imaging machines have been asked to factor in the safety of pediatric patients, both in explaining the proper use of existing machines (i.e., making it clear how the devices may be adjusted for safer use on children) and in the design of new ones. If manufacturers are unable to show that their devices are safe for children patients, the FDA wants them to affix warning labels to the machines saying as much.
Someone in Your Life Harmed? Speak To an Attorney
Generally, X-rays are a useful, indispensable and relatively safe medical tool. However, children should not be exposed to any more radiation than is absolutely necessary when they get X-rays or CT scans. If you believe someone you love may have been harmed from overexposure to X-ray radiation, get in touch with a medical malpractice attorney today to explore your options.