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Is it safe to walk through airport screening machines while I'm pregnant?

Jenny was taking a flight to Dubai for holiday and was concerned about the safety and well being of her baby. She was 24 weeks (5 months) into her first pregnancy. First, she was apprehensive about the airport security screening machines.

In most airports, passengers walk through metal detectors, which use a low-frequency electromagnetic field to look for weapons. Anything that generates or uses electricity, such as power lines or household appliances, produces an electromagnetic field. At the low levels a metal detector emits, this exposure is considered safe for everyone, including pregnant women. (The same holds true for the wands that security personnel sometimes pass over individual passengers.)

Many people mistakenly think these metal detectors use X-rays – they don't. Luggage X-ray machines do, though. They emit the same kind of radiation as in a dental X-ray and are used only on your bags and other inanimate objects going on the plane. You would have to place your hand through the curtain of a luggage screening machine while the X-ray was on to be exposed to a significant level of radiation.

Secondly, Jenny asked, “is it safe to fly while pregnant”?

It's normally safe to fly while you're pregnant. The safest time to fly during pregnancy is after 14 weeks and before 37 weeks or, if carrying twins, before 32 weeks. Flying is not harmful during a low-risk pregnancy, but there may be side effects. If more than 28 weeks pregnant, a woman should take her medical notes and a Doctor's letter. However, some airlines will not let you fly towards the end of your pregnancy, so you should check what your airline's policy is.

“I have read some things telling me that flying while pregnant is okay and some other things that say I should worry about an increased risk of cancer for my baby if I do fly while I'm pregnant. Can you clarify this” Jenny went on? First, let me mention that the background risks for birth defects are 3% and for miscarriage are 15%; this is the normal incidence. The most important factor with regard to radiation risks is the dose. Fortunately, when you are flying in a jet at 30,000 feet altitude, the exposure is extremely small and for only a short period of time. Based on our knowledge of the amount of radiation to result in birth defects or miscarriage, there is no risk from commercial flying.

Although everyone who flies is exposed to a slight increase in radiation, there is no evidence that flying causes miscarriage, early labour or a woman's waters to break. However, it is important to discuss any health issues or pregnancy complications with your midwife or doctor before you fly.

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Jenny was taking a flight to Dubai for holiday and was concerned about the safety and well being of her baby. She was 24 weeks (5 months) into her first pregnancy.  First, she was apprehensive about the airport security screening machines.
In most airports, passengers walk through metal detectors, which use a low-frequency electromagnetic field to look for weapons. Anything that generates or uses electricity, such as power lines or household appliances, produces an electromagnetic field. At the low levels a metal detector emits, this exposure is considered safe for everyone, including pregnant women. (The same holds true for the wands that security personnel sometimes pass over individual passengers.)

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