New WHO report outlines risks of pediatric imaging procedures

A new report from the World Health Organization (WHO) details the risks associated with pediatric imaging and calls for increased awareness and accountability by physicians, caregivers and patients.

According to the report, radiation from medical procedures has led to an increase in Americans’ average annual radiation dose since 1987, with approximately 11 percent of all CT scans performed in the United States being conducted on children.

Providing patients and parents with information about how imaging tests are used, the risks of radiation exposure and other potential concerns is critical to improving pediatric radiological care, said report co-author Donald Frush, MD, of Duke University in Durham, N.C.

“The public and patients have become increasingly aware of the use of all types of radiation, not just from cell phones and microwave ovens, but also ionizing radiation, which is used in diagnostic medical imaging, such as CT scans and x-ray studies,” he said in a university press release. “CT scans are extremely helpful and of high value in caring for children, providing information to make informed decisions about treatment options. They can be life-saving. But there have been inflammatory and disturbing news reports about the dangers of CT scans.”

Frush said parents should always feel free to ask important questions about their child’s imaging procedures, including questions about staff training, hospital equipment and radiation dosage.

“The take-home message for parents is, when one of these studies is necessary, it’s reasonable to ask if there will be proper adjustments done for children,” he said. “The WHO document puts all of that into a factual, straightforward and balanced perspective.”

Read the WHO report on pediatric imaging.