Radiation Effects on Fetes

Post in Health

Irradiation of Ionizing Radiation such as X-rays (During an X-ray or CT Exam) can cause harmful effects to an unborn child which is still in the womb. But these effects vary with the stage of development of foetus.

Predominantly, there are three major stages of development.

  1. Pre-Implantation
  2. Major Organogenesis
  3. Fatal Stage


  1. It is the stage between the times of copulation until the zygote got embedded in the uterine wall.
  2. Period- 12hr – 14 Days after conception.
  3. During this stage, it follows “All or none Law”.
  4. In simple words either there will be an ‘unrecognized death’ of the zygote will take place or there will be no effect. The reason for this is simple, this zygote’s cell is so active at this time that if the radiation exposure is much enough it will kill the cell and if it is not enough the cell will repair the radiation damage done to itself.
  5. But it is also not to be forgettable that it is still radiosensitive and radiation exposure can cause problems such as Chromosomal aberrations which will lead to abnormalities in the future cells.




  1. It is the stage when formation of all organs takes place.
  2. Period- 15- 50 Days.
  3. Most radiosensitive period of all three as any exposure during this period will cause major deformities to the organs being formed and will lead to birth defects.
  4. Malformation such as cataract, mental retardation, microcephaly, microphthalmia, growth retardation, skeletal defects, and carcinogenesis.


Fatal Stage


  1. It is the stage of a prenatal human being between the embryonic stage and birth.
  2. It is the most radiosensitive stage of all three as prenatal death (abortion) and birth defects are negligible.
  3. Still, alterations like growth retardation abnormalities of the Nervous System and sense organs are seen in some cases.
  4. Also, nervous system abnormalities such as behavioral issues and/or reduced IQ are also seen.

The risk of childhood blood cancer also increases in case of exposure during this stage.