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Study: diagnostic imaging dangers for kids

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Grace Hickson's great-grandson Andre had his first x-ray when he was one and-a-half years old.

"He couldn't breathe and I took him to another doctor and they x-ray'd and that's when they told me he had pneumonia," Hickson said.

A new study in the ournal Pediatrics finds the number of children who have undergone diagnostic imaging scans, including xrays, MRIs, CT scans and ultrasounds, has increased significantly over the past nine years. Higher radiation procedures, like CT scans rose 34 percent during the study.

The findings raise concern because other studies have linked radiation exposure to increased risk of cancer.

"Children are all growing so that means their cells are all rapidly replicating so that means they are more at risk for radiation than an adult," said Dr. Jessica Sessions, Director of Pediatrics at Ryan Center.

Imaging procedures with higher amounts of radiation were most frequently performed in the hospital and emergency room settings.

Researchers didn't determine how much of the imaging was truly necessary. Health experts say parents should question their child's doctor before agreeing to any scan. "Ask them, well, how much radiation is involved, and is the the test really necessary?" Dr. Sessions said.

Hickson says she was aware of the radiation risk, but felt the test needed to be done. "Unfortunately a lot of time children have to have xrays to find out exactly what's wrong," she said.

She says she tries to do whatever is best for Andre's health.  

Vinita Nair - CBS News

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