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Q&A: Safe to have a mammogram while pregnant?

"I'm wondering if it is safe to have a mammogram while you are pregnant. I am curious as to the risk involved for my baby and me." -dreams_come_true

Re: "I'm wondering if it is safe to have a mammogram while you are pregnant. I am curious as to the risk involved for my baby and me." -dreams_come_true

The Bump Expert

Risks of radiation exposure depend largely on the gestational age of the fetus and the amount of radiation the fetus is exposed to. Adverse effects to the fetus may include mental retardation, increased risk of developing cancers such as childhood leukemia, and fetal growth restriction.
But, in order to develop any of these adverse effects, the fetus needs to be exposed to a substantial amount of radiation. For instance, the risk of childhood leukemia seems to increase after 1-2 rad of exposure, and a mammogram is associated with only 0.02 rad of exposure. The effect is cumulative, though. So, if you need multiple X-rays or CT scans in pregnancy for whatever reason, the exposure adds up.

The best advice is to speak with your doctor about how necessary the mammogram is during pregnancy. As with most things in pregnancy, you will have to balance the potential risks of radiation exposure to the fetus with the benefit of early detection of a breast abnormality.

Dr. Ashley Roman

re: Q: Mammogram in pregnancy?

All I know is that I had a mammogram while I was pregnant because my doctor seemed to think that it was a necessary evil, and they now had a picture of my huge lump. They won't biopsy it until after the birth, however, so essentially all it did was confirm that there WAS something there (which was clear already- size of a golf ball) and tell me that we need to take action once baby is born, so I wish I had just waited for the mammogram. All it really did was confirm that I should, in fact, be afraid, and potentially hurt baby. It also made it impossible for me to use my insurance, because I was not at my position over a year when I went on leave, so it cancelled my insurance and now whatever it is won't be covered. I wouldn't suggest.

rebleigh1 |

re: Q: Mammogram in pregnancy?

As a mammography technologist, I have some imput. Generally we do not do screening mammograms on someone who is pregnant for two main reasons; the risk to the fetus and breast tissue in pregnancy (or while breast feeding for that matter) makes it extremely difficult for the interpreting Radiologist to read the exam. A screening mammogram is just a rotine annual check for woman over 40. If you or your doctor feels a lump, it is usually checked first by Ultrasound and then only if necessary a diagnostic mammogram (probably just of the breast in which the lump is felt.) Hope this helps.