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Dose Matters: FDA's Guidance on Children's X-rays.

Most people have had an X-ray taken at some time during their lives,perhaps checking for a possible broken bone or during a visit to the dentist. X-ray exams provide important information to physicians about how to treat their patients. However, X-rays use ionizing radiation, and these imaging exams must be carefully and judiciously used on pediatric patients.

While the level of risk from the radiation associated with X-rays is small, especially when compared with the benefits of an accurate diagnosis, health care professionals must be especially sensitive to their appropriate use in children. Pediatric patients generally require less radiation than adults to obtain a quality image from an X-ray exam, so doctors must take extra care to “child size” the radiation dose.

FDA’s Role

The FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) regulates medical imaging devices. Among its responsibilities is keeping consumers and health care professionals informed about the importance of minimizing unnecessary radiation exposure during medical procedures.

The level of ionizing radiation from X-ray imaging is generally very low, but can contribute to an increased risk of cancer. Because children have longer expected lifetimes ahead of them for potential effects to appear and the risk for cancer is not fully understood, it’s important to use the lowest radiation dose necessary to provide a diagnostic exam.

The FDA is committed to protecting the health of children by providi