When your child is sick or hurt, you want them to get medical care right away. Often, getting an image through x-ray, fluoroscopy, CT scan, or another medical test that uses radiation is the best way to find out what the problem might be. But it’s important to use these tests only when necessary.
That’s because these types of exams expose children to ionizing radiation, which can be a risk factor for cancer. Exposure is especially concerning in children. For one thing, children are more sensitive to radiation than adults because their bodies are still growing. Children might also receive a higher radiation dose than necessary if equipment settings are not adjusted for their smaller body size. And younger patients have a longer lifetime for the effects of radiation to take their toll.
What to do? The US Food and Drug Administration, which regulates medical radiation devices, has some guidance for parents:
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