A recent U.S. study grabbed my attention today. For the study, researchers examined the medical records of over 700 children up to age 14 who had been diagnosed with acute lymphoid leukemia between 1995 and 2008. They compared the records of children in similar age groups who did not have leukemia. What they found was kids may double their risk of developing this form of leukemia if they have three or more x-rays in childhood’however, they are quick to point out that the risk remains small.
I have to say it really freaked me out. My son has recently had two x-rays in the last couple of weeks to first diagnose pneumonia and then to monitor it after he kept complaining of a sore shoulder and ribs even after days on antibiotics’he is scheduled to go for a third to monitor his recovery.
The authors of the study stress they aren’t calling for an end to childhood x-rays because they are crucial to the treatment of conditions such as pneumonia and broken bones. And the study doesn’t definitively prove that x-rays increase the risk of leukemia. But they are recommending that doctors not order them if they aren’t necessary and to take special precautions when it comes to CT scans (which deliver much more radiation to the body).
I’ve decided that I’m not going to follow up with another X-ray for my son. He is definitely better he has no fever and has his energy back and he has no more pain in his ribs or shoulder (a classic symptom of pneumonia I’ve since learned). If I hadn’t read this study though I wouldn’t have hesitated to take him back to the x-ray department at my doctors building’ my worry about the pneumonia outweighed any thoughts I may have had about the impact of exposure to x-rays. That’s not to say I wouldn’t take him if he got sick again or wasn’t getting better, but I just think rather than jumping at whatever test is offered to ease my mind I need to think more about what implications they may have down the road’and this study provided a good reality check.