Research and analysis

Effect of preconceptional radiation exposure on pregnancy

COMARE’s eighth report: reviews the evidence of how occupational exposure to radiation can affect pregnancy outcomes.


COMARE eighth report


Previous reports by the Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (COMARE) have looked at the effects of exposure to radiation in the environment on the risk of developing cancer in adults and children. This report examines the evidence for effects on pregnancy outcomes (called reproductive outcomes in the report) in the offspring of people exposed to radiation.

Animal and laboratory studies suggest that radiation exposure can increase the rate of certain conditions including malformations and death in the offspring of those exposed. However, studies of people exposed to radiation – for example, the Japanese atomic-bomb survivors – had not found clear evidence for such an effect. This could be because the animal studies generally use much higher doses of radiation and/or because the human studies were not powerful or well controlled enough to find an effect. This report re-examines the evidence including new research to try to determine if radiation exposure of parents can cause adverse pregnancy outcomes in their offspring.

Published 26 February 2004