TUESDAY, Jan. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Exposure to radiation from
medical imaging procedures such as X-rays and CT scans has become
common among American children, a new study has found, prompting
researchers to call for steps to be taken to ensure appropriate use
of the tests to protect children.
Increasing use of diagnostic imaging has led to concerns about
radiation exposure. Although X-rays emit relatively little
radiation, CT scans emit more and may raise the risk for cancer,
particularly in children.
Compared with adults, infants and children are at higher risk
for tumors because their developing tissues are more sensitive to
radiation, the researchers noted.
For the study, Dr. Adam Dorfman, of the University of Michigan
Medical School in Ann Arbor and his colleagues looked at the health
insurance records of 355,088 children and teens younger than 18 for
a three-year period, from the start of 2005 through the end of
In that time, 42 percent of the children had a scan that used
radiation, the study found. Most of the 436,711 imaging procedures
were done on children older than 10, but infants 2 years or younger
also were given scans.
About 25 percent of the children had two or more scans, and 16
percent had three or more.
Most of the imaging procedures -- nearly 85 percent -- were
X-rays, but CT scans accounted for about 12 percent. Scans of the
head were the most common type of CT scan that was administered to
children in the study.
"That's particularly concerning," Dorfman told the
Associated Press. "Today's children are undoubtedly getting many more of these studies than previous generations."
Because of this, his team concluded in its report, "efforts to
optimize and ensure appropriate use of these procedures in the
pediatric population should be encouraged." The findings were
published online Jan. 3 in
Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.
The Alliance for Radiation Safety in Pediatric Imaging, a
coalition of imaging organizations, was formed specifically to work
toward reducing unnecessary radiation exposure in children. For
example, the group wants to make sure that children are given the
lowest possible dose of radiation and that scans are done only when
other tests that do not involve radiation cannot be used.
"We want to be as cautious as we can and protect children as much as possible," Dr. Marilyn Goske, who chairs the alliance, told the AP.
The Alliance for Radiation Safety in Pediatric Imaging has more
medical imaging procedures and children.