CT scans, used increasingly in hospital on children with head injuries, may damage their intellectual development, according to new research on the effects of low doses of ionising radiation on the brain.
Studies of those who were exposed to radiation while still in the womb from the atomic bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima have shown that high doses can harm the brain. But little is known about the effects of low doses according to Per Hall, an associate professor at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, and colleagues writing in this week’s British Medical Journal.
The use of CT scans in hospitals to assess the extent of brain injuries in children who have been in accidents needs to be reassessed, the researchers say.
It is possible that some young patients are receiving a dose of radiation which will permanently affect their intellectual development.
CT scans are not routinely recommended for children, but they are often used.