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Radiation Exposure and Pregnancy

Labant, Amy PhD, RN; Silva, Christina PhD, RN

MCN, The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing: November/December 2014 - Volume 39 - Issue 6 - p 345–350
doi: 10.1097/NMC.0000000000000084

Radiological exposure from nuclear power reactor accidents, transportation of nuclear waste accidents, industrial accidents, or terrorist activity may be a remote possibility, but it could happen. Nurses must be prepared to evaluate and treat pregnant women and infants who have been exposed to radiation, and to have an understanding of the health consequences of a nuclear or radiological incident. Pregnant women and infants are a special group of patients who need consideration when exposed to radiation. Initial care requires thorough assessment and decisions regarding immediate care needs. Ongoing care is based on type and extent of radiation exposure. With accurate, comprehensive information and education, nurses will be better prepared to help mitigate the effects of radiation exposure to pregnant women and infants following a radiological incident. Information about radiation, health effects of prenatal radiation exposure, assessment, patient care, and treatment of pregnant women and infants are presented.

Radiation exposure during pregnancy can have serious health implications for the mother and her fetus. A review of key information for nurses about radiation exposure and pregnancy is provided.

Amy Labant is an Assistant Professor, Mansfield University, Mansfield, PA.

Christina Silva is an Assistant Professor, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana, PA. She can be reached via e-mail at whpp@iup.ed

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Web site (

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

© 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.