Gadolinium best avoided when imaging pregnant women

Expectant mothers and their babies are fine getting MRI exams—but their doctors should avoid ordering scans enhanced with gadolinium-based contrast agents, according to a Canadian study published in JAMA and covered by Reuters Health Sept. 6.

Analyzing more than 1 million births between 2003 and 2013, the researchers found that, for one thing, skin conditions like nephrogenic systemic fibrosis were about 36 percent more common in babies born to the gadolinium group than the no-MRI group.  

Meanwhile, rheumatological and inflammatory conditions increased by about 45 cases per 1,000 children per year.

Dorothy Bulas, MD, professor of pediatrics and radiology at George Washington University, called the study “reassuring,” noting that it supports the use of non-contrast MRI at any stage of gestation if it’s clinically indicated.  

“The study also supports the need to avoid gadolinium in the pregnant patient,” Bulas told the news service, “unless the maternal benefits truly outweigh the potential fetal risks that were noted in this large study cohort.”

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