In 1956 British doctors drew attention to a link between X-rays during pregnancy and subsequent childhood cancers.(1) Within a few years similar findings were reported in American children. But for a quarter of a century, scientists questioned whether X-rays were actually the cause and cited animal experiments to show that the foetus is not especially sensitive to radiation.(2) However, it seems that compared with other species, the human foetus is more susceptible to the carcinogenic effects of X-rays,(2) and during the 1980s further observational studies confirmed the hazards, particularly in early pregnancy.(3)
1) A.M. Stewart et al, Lancet, 1956, September I,447; British Medical Journal, 1958, June 28,1495-1508.
2) E.B.Harvey et al, New England Journal of Medicine, 1985, February 28, 541-545.
3) E.G.Knox et al, Journal of the Society of Radiological Protection, 1987, vol.7,3-15; E.A.Gilman et al, Journal of Radiological Protection, 1988, vol.8, 3-8.
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