Regular M.R.I. Is Safe During Pregnancy

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Having an M.R.I. during pregnancy presents no danger to the fetus or the offspring, researchers have found, but the risks appear to change when a contrast agent is used.

Researchers tracked 1,424,105 deliveries of live and stillborn infants in Ontario from 2003 to 2015. Among them were 5,654 women who had M.R.I.s and 397 who had an M.R.I. with a contrast agent called gadolinium, which can enhance the image. The study was published in JAMA.

The incidence of congenital abnormalities for women who had first-trimester M.R.I.s without contrast was no higher than for those who had none at all, and there were no differences in abnormalities among their children, who were followed up to age 4.

Among women who had gadolinium-enhanced procedures, there was a slightly higher risk of still births and neonatal death, and their children had higher rates of a range of skin diseases and inflammatory conditions. But there were not enough women with enhanced M.R.I.s to draw definitive conclusions about the risk of any single outcome.

The lead author, Dr. Joel G. Ray, a clinician researcher at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, said that the findings should be reassuring to women who require a regular M.R.I. during pregnancy. Women who need an M.R.I. with a contrast agent should talk to their doctors about the risks and benefits of the procedure.

“The panic button gets pushed” when a woman who did not realize she was pregnant gets an M.R.I. or when a pregnant woman needs one, he said. “Our paper should limit the anxiety or concern that those women have.”