From Edinburgh Scotsman:

CARRYING out X-rays on pregnant women and babies could increase the risk of childhood cancers, research suggests.

A study published in the British Medical Journal said the potential risk – although small – meant doctors should take extra care when using X-ray and CT scans on this group.

The results back up what has long been suspected by clinicians, which means women are always asked about the possibility of pregnancy before images are taken.

The researchers, from the University of York and the National Cancer Institute in the United States, are more concerned about the potential effects from CT scans, which use much higher doses of radiation than X-rays.

The team looked at 2,690 children with cancer and 4,858 healthy children, all born between 1976 and 1996. They found 305 children received 319 radiographic examinations while in the womb, while 170 children received 247 X-ray examinations in early infancy.

Overall, the researchers found the risk of cancer was potentially increased by 14 per cent in children exposed to X-rays in the womb, and 16 per cent for those exposed as young babies. The strongest risk appeared to be for lymphoma.

But the researchers warned that the small number of cancer cases the results were based on meant more research was needed. The study found no increased risk caused by ultrasound scans.