Child Radiation Exposure from Xrays

Updated on April 30, 2019
V.B. asks from Queen Creek, AZ
12 answers

My 4 year old daughter swallowed a penny last week. I took her to urgent care and before the radiologist took xrays I asked her if the radiation in xrays is low. She said yes but I’m exposing all her major organs since she was taking xrays of her throat, chest and abdomen. She had a concerned look which frightened me. I went forward with the xrays though because I needed to make sure my daughter was ok. She took 2 xrays of her throat and 1 of her abdomen. Later I read online that xrays of children’s neck area increases their risk of thyroid cancer and the child must be monitored for thyroid cancer the rest of their lives! I understand that the radiation was important to rule out something serious which is why I did it but I’m now concerned about her risk for thyroid cancer and possibly other cancers. Anyone’s child get X-rays of the neck area who is older now with no issues? Thank you

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So What Happened?

Thank you everyone for your feedback. I truly appreciate it. My daughter ended up passing the penny 7 1/2 days later. I was even more worried and concerned because penny’s made after 1982 are mostly made of zinc, which when combined with stomach acid, can cause damage to your insides. Thank goodness it passed! In the beginning her pediatrician did say that xrays are very little radiation and we get radiation everyday. At the time I hadn’t read about the risks specifically to a child’s thyroid but next time I take my daughter in to see her pediatrician I will ask. But overall it does make sense that the risk is very low and the benefit of knowing where the penny was outweighed the risk. Thank you again so much!

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answers from Seattle on

My son is 16 and had about 30 x-rays and CAT scans as a newborn.
He's fine.
My other son got x-rays to his scrotum, he's fine.
You know...back in the day....they used to have x-ray machines at shoe stores and people could take their own x-ray of their feet...for fun.
A few x-rays here and there are not going to harm anyone.
Breathing in the polluted air is more dangerous.

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answers from Portland on

As someone who has an inheritable form of cancer in her family, this is silly (no offense). I get x-rays.

Your child will not have to be monitored her whole life for cancer from x-rays. Do you know how many children have had x-rays - do you honestly think they monitor them all for cancer their whole lives? C'mon ...

My children have had adenoid surgeries, bronchitis, etc. and x-rays were taken. It's necessary for healthcare.

You probably read that they used to 'treat' enlarged adenoids, etc. back in the day with radiation 'treatment' and that was overkill. X-rays for the purposes of determining what to do to treat children is not the same thing.

Talk to your daughter's pediatrician next time you're in if you're still concerned by then, but for now - let it go :) It's ok.

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answers from Dallas on

Oh good lord. Stay off Dr Google.

You get more radiation with no X-rays. It’s not like you’re doing it daily.

Everyday life has risks involved. You can’t bubble wrap children and protect them from everything in the world. You’ve got to live your life.

Living in fear of all the what if’s will make your life miserable.

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answers from Norfolk on

Over her life time she will get more radiation from the sun than from anywhere else.
If she ever gets a sunburn - it's a radiation burn - skin cancer is a risk - which is why sunscreen is so important - but a little sunshine is healthy.

Most likely she will poop it out within a few days.
Did the x-ray find the penny?

If the internet freaks you out put down the computer and talk to your doctor.
Looking up stuff like this online will just give you anxiety attacks and your kid needs you to not do that.

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answers from Boston on

Most likely your daughter had xrays taken by a rad tech (a radiologist is a MD that reads the xrays after the tech takes them). One of my daughters is a rad tech and I can assure you that they have a very high level or training and take great care to do as few views as possible with the correct amount of radiation to get the job done. They are especially careful with children to make sure the child and the parents understand what's going on.

She'll be fine. Please don't worry about this. Her exposure was low and the benefits of knowing where that penny was outweighed the risks.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

One of the real problems with the internet is that average people can contact "Dr. Google" and get scared out of their minds. It's so hard to evaluate the validity of various sources sometimes, especially when you do your research when you're already worried.

If you're saying the radiologist had a concerned look on her face, I doubt it's from the 2 x-rays. I'm sure it was more likely a look of concentration in trying to carefully position the equipment or to carefully evaluate the films. Maybe she was concerned that she couldn't immediately locate the penny. Maybe you just misread the look to begin with - this is not a physician you know well, so you can't assume you know what a particular facial expression means. I don't know - I wasn't there. I just know there are a bunch of reason why this could have occurred.

I had x-rays as a kid before anyone knew that we should wear lead shields. I'm fine. I have dense breasts and fibrocystic breast disease, and I've had annual mammograms. Until 10 years ago, I usually had call-backs and multiple films of each breast, plus extra x-rays associated with breast surgery. I'm no worse for wear due to the x-rays, and I now have clean scans all the time with zero repeats. In my experience, we're at greater risk for NOT having these x-rays. One of my stepdaughters has scoliosis and has had tons of spinal x-rays in connection with multiple insertions and extensions of rods along her spine. The other has a congenital hearing loss and has had tons of diagnostic tests related to that. They've had surgeries and anesthesia. No one has thyroid cancer or any other kind of cancer from
x-rays. In fact, I think our health is better because we've had them.

Do try to relax. I know it's hard but you will find that you actually make better decisions when you don't panic about small doses of radiation or small amounts of anesthesia or small amounts of vaccines, and a whole bunch of other common procedures.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

If that is the case, my kids should be glowing in the dark! I have never heard of monitoring a child for life because they had an xray on the throat area. I'm not sure what you read but please don't get your medical information from the internet.

The look of concern was probably due to the fact that your kiddo ate a penny. I'm glad she is okay.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

Please!!! STAY OFF THE INTERNET!!!! You'll have died five times by the time you get some information.

Right now, you need to verify your daughter is fine. She is. She had MINIMAL exposure.

I have 4 boys. ALL have been XRAY'd at some point in their lives. One is in college, 2 are in high school and one is in Junior high. NONE of them have thyroid issues. NONE. And they've had chest and head xrays. SEVERAL TIMES.

STAY OFF THE INTERNET!! If you are that concerned? Go to your pediatrician and have him/her go over the affects of radiation with you.

Then make sure your daughter knows not to put anything but food in her mouth.,

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

Everything in life has risk, EVERYTHING. The benefit of the X-ray outweighed the risk or they would not have done it, just like my son who has arthritis has been getting X-rays every two years since he was two. You can spend your life worrying about every little thing (if you read online you will find articles claiming everything from microwaves to non-stick pans cause cancer) but I wouldn't recommend it.

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answers from Washington DC on

If I had gotten on google and checked out every symptom my kids have had over their 17 and 19 years?? they would be dead of cancer, liver disease, and numerous other things.

Please, step away from the computer. Talk with your pediatrician about your concerns. If XRAYS were that bad? My kids would have thyroid cancer. They don't. If XRAYS were that bad? They would have banned them by now.

Do you know how much radiation and other toxic elements hit your child EVERY DAY?? You would wrap her in bubble wrap and never let her leave the house that you would disinfect every day with chemicals. BREATHE mama. BREATHE!!!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

the 'look of concern' was probably for your daughter's internal piggybank, not the low dose of radiation she got from necessary x-rays.

you can also read online that eating fish will cause worms to hatch out of your mouth and that vapor from airplane engines is being used to brainwash us.

your child gets radiation from playing in the sun, flying on an airplane, and watching tv.

as a parent it is your ethical obligation to get sensible realistic news from sensible realistic sources. unwarranted panic over 'what you read on the internet' is lazy and inefficient parenting.

don't be that parent.


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answers from Washington DC on

Thanks for your question V. B.

Just as a friendly reminder, per Mamapedia Guidelines:

Mamapedia does allow medical questions to be asked, however we do not encourage it. The first and best source for the answers to all such questions will always be an appropriate certified professional. Please always consult such a professional in these matters first and foremost.

Mamapedia does not offer medical advice to our members, and any such advice you receive on the site is taken at your own risk.


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