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Government Medicine News

FDA Cracking Down On X-ray Exposure For Kids 138

ericjones12398 writes "The Food and Drug Administration is proposing that manufacturers of X-ray machines and CT scanners do more to protect children from radiation exposure. If companies don't take steps to limit X-ray doses, the agency may require a label on their new equipment recommending it not be used on children. X-rays and CT scans can provide doctors with lots of useful information. But the radiation that creates the helpful images also increases a person's risk for cancer. There's been an explosion in the use of imaging tests. And rising radiation doses, particularly from CT scans, have drawn concern. The cancer risk increases with the dose of X-rays received during a person's lifetime, so kids' exposure is particularly important. It's also the case that children are more sensitive to X-ray damage. The FDA is also telling parents to speak up. If a doctor orders a test or procedure that uses X-rays, parents shouldn't be afraid to ask if it's really necessary. Also, it doesn't hurt to ask if there's an acceptable alternative, such as ultrasound or MRI, that doesn't rely on X-rays."
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FDA Cracking Down On X-ray Exposure For Kids

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  • Can we please... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @07:20PM (#39960745) Homepage Journal

    ...insist on these rules also applying to the TSA?

  • Focus on TSA too (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lavagolemking ( 1352431 ) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @07:25PM (#39960809)
    I realize this may not be possible because they'd be costing Chertoff ^W^W sympathizing with terrorists, but the FDA should work on TSA body scanners too while they're at it. In medicine, doctors are at least remotely concerned about how much radiation people are exposed to. The TSA is only concerned with keeping people in line, maintaining a security theater, and spending/receiving lots of public money. Limiting children's exposure to X-rays is a respectable, important cause, and not all children will travel by air, but it will all be wasted if the kids run through too many body scanners with traveling parents. Plus, parents will probably not know anything about body scanners, and will believe the TSA agents when they say the scanners are "perfectly safe".
  • by jd ( 1658 ) <imipak@@@yahoo...com> on Thursday May 10, 2012 @07:31PM (#39960871) Homepage Journal

    The "ideal" would be to add a stipulation that no provider (be they medical or otherwise) is permitted to cause the person to exceed the stipulated yearly dose without informed consent, with total dosage accumulated to that point being recorded by the provider before and after a scan.

    What I do not see is any way you could possibly achieve this, without being incredibly invasive and/or potentially causing worse side-effects.

    Nonetheless, the goal should be to not merely ensure individual scans are given responsibly but that the cumulation of scans is also being done responsibly. That's much harder to do, since human memory isn't reliable and patients can't possibly know what they've been exposed to up to that point (especially in the case of TSA scans). It doesn't matter if individual scans are relatively harmless, it's the dosage per unit time that matters.

  • Re:and then... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @07:37PM (#39960925)

    see your monthly premiums go up in response.

    They'd go up anyway. They've been rising at about 1,200% of the inflation rate since... well, the day they went into business. And it has nothing to do with the costs of medicine and more to do with shitty management and administration.

  • by jimmy_dean ( 463322 ) <james.hodapp@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Thursday May 10, 2012 @07:45PM (#39960979) Homepage

    I'm not conflicted at all. Forcing kids to experience pat-downs just might anger the public enough to force our government to eliminate the bulls**t.

    I couldn't agree more. The TSA costs way too much money, violates far too many freedoms, and produces nothing more than FUD. I would seriously like to see the TSA removed and each airport and airline worry about their own security.

  • Re:Parents? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mpoulton ( 689851 ) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @07:58PM (#39961067)

    If the doctor doesn't need to do an x-ray, then performing one is negligent.

    It's nowhere near that simple. Like most medical procedures, imaging has costs (in a medical sense) and benefits. The medical "cost" of performing a few radiographs of a potentially broken limb are very low, but the diagnostic benefit is very high. The medical "cost" of doing a thoracic CT is significant enough that every radiologist thinks it over in some detail before ordering one - the radiation dose is several orders of magnitude higher than a single peripheral radiograph. However, the diagnostic benefit in many circumstances is so thoroughly outweighed by the tiny risk of cancer that the CT is often worthwhile. There are many borderline circumstances though, where it's simply a judgment call as to whether the radiation dose is worthwhile to obtain the image. What about a person who loses consciousness and falls, doesn't remember whether he hit is head, but shows no signs of brain injury? Is a head CT worthwhile? Most ER docs say yes, but some would wait and see if any neurological symptoms appear. The increased cancer risk from radio-imaging in children has to be balanced against the increased sensitivity of children to injury, the difficulty of using other (more subjective) non-imaging diagnostic approaches with children, and the increased impact on quality of life of a missed diagnosis in a child. Bottom line: There is no clear answer as to whether radiological imaging is worth the risk in some cases. I tend to believe that radiation exposure is less harmful than most people make it out to be, and that the established limits for exposure are already extremely cautious, and there's little reason to avoid most imaging procedures. At the same time, I am reluctant to get repeated abdominal CT's for my kidney stones because I know that if the procedure is repeated every time I have a problem my cumulative exposure will eventually be very substantial.

  • by Keith111 ( 1862190 ) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @08:05PM (#39961149)
    I'm pretty sure that suicide or other maligned conditions affect people who have been exposed to molestation as a child more often than it does those who have not. In the future it's probably going to be easier to cure cancer than it is to repair a totally screwed childhood.
  • by KhabaLox ( 1906148 ) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @08:10PM (#39961233)

    I'm pretty sure that suicide or other maligned conditions affect people who have been exposed to molestation as a child more often than it does those who have not.
    In the future it's probably going to be easier to cure cancer than it is to repair a totally screwed childhood.

    Are you seriously comparing full-on, bare genital contact, sexual molestation with over the clothes pat-downs performed in public spaces within sight of a parent?

    I'm no fan of the TSA or their security procedures, but this kind of hyperbole doesn't help your argument. I'd much rather my children get the pat down, though each time they've flown through LAX they get sent to the old style metal detectors, while I got sent through the backscatter* (or mm-wave or whatever it is).

    *Next time, I'm asking for the pat-down.

  • by houstonbofh ( 602064 ) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @08:29PM (#39961473)
    Then support this... http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0512/75896.html [politico.com]

    I know... Oh, those crazy Pauls... Always coming up with those crazy political ideas. I mean just crazy, like this one. Eliminate the TSA... That's just crazy! I mean what would we... I mean, what... Uh... OK, they may not be that crazy after all.
  • by houstonbofh ( 602064 ) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @08:33PM (#39961529)

    The radiation dose from a properly functioning backscatter xray full-body scanner is about 0.6 Sv. The dose from a properly functioning chest CT scan is about 7mSv, 10000x larger.

    Assuming that it is working properly. And the FDA mandates frequent testing for their machines. How about the TSA? And do they actually do it?

  • by Taco Cowboy ( 5327 ) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @09:31PM (#39962053) Journal

    And that what TSA is all about

    It's not about terrorism, it's not about security, it's about numbing the public through excessive harassment

  • by profplump ( 309017 ) <zach-slashjunk@kotlarek.com> on Thursday May 10, 2012 @10:11PM (#39962339)

    And when the TSA starts preforming regular testing of their machines by an independent contractor, installing "x-ray on" indicators, training staff on the dangers of ionizing radiation, providing staff with personal safety equipment, and otherwise taking all the other basic precautions that every other industry using ionizing radiation already take, then we can talk about the relative danger, and compare it to the benefit.

    Until then we can only assume that the TSA is operating death-rays, because the machines they're running are inherently dangerous and they can't be bothered to install basic safeguards.

  • by houstonbofh ( 602064 ) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @10:22PM (#39962419)
    If I can go to prison for doing it to a high school girl, it is rape.
  • by wvmarle ( 1070040 ) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @10:33PM (#39962503)

    But but but.... that would mean you're supporting a REPUBLICAN? Do I see that correctly? You must be a Republican. Or how could any Democrat in their right mind support a Republican, even when their ideas make sense for a change?

    OK I'm not an American but that's my view of America's super-partisan "as long as it's one of us" politics. Switch Republican and Democrat at will. And it's also why I don't think this TSA-abolishment will happen any time soon, because if one side wants it the other side is automatically against.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 10, 2012 @11:21PM (#39962775)

    As a trauma ER nurse who just last night treated a 3 year-old who fell 35 feet out of her apartment window, I agree with the sentiment of the effort without agreeing with the implementation.

    Sometimes, the extended waiting and confusion caused by more red tape can destroy a child's life sooner and with more pain than the possibility of radiation exposure.

    If we had to produce written statements, warnings, and consents instead of a verbal okay from the parents last night before that girl's CT and head to toe X-rays, the case may have turned out with a funeral this weekend.

    You know what can cause lifelong problems in the development of a child? An undiagnosed femur or C-spine fracture with a delay in assessment of an abdominal bleed.

  • Re:and then... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Friday May 11, 2012 @12:52AM (#39963229)

    Well...that is true...but forcing them to use more expensive treatments would make it go up even more.

    Not true. Every law that has increased your safety came on the cries of "It'll ruin us!" by the businesses who were tasked with improving safety. Air bags, antilock brakes, refridgeration of food, OSHA... every last one of them had a business using that argument. I have yet to see a case of an industry winking out of existance because the government demanded a more stringent safety standard.

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