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Section 13: Exposure to Pregnant Women


A. Facts for Females Concerning Radiation Effects to the Fetus

  • The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has issued regulations which mandate the separate control of fetal dose when a pregnant worker submits a written declaration of pregnancy to her supervisor. In some cases adequate control of fetal dose may require that the pregnant worker be reassigned to a different position or that her job responsibilities be modified. For any reason, a pregnant worker may choose not to declare her pregnancy. If a written declaration of pregnancy is not submitted to the Radiation Safety Officer, then the worker's dose continues to be controlled under the normal dose limits for radiation workers. The following points summarize the NRC's fetal dose regulations:

    1. The fetal dose regulations apply only to a woman who has voluntarily informed her employer, in writing, of her pregnancy and the estimated date of conception.
    2. The dose to the fetus resulting from occupational exposure of a declared pregnant worker may not exceed 500 mrem for the entire pregnancy.
    3. If the dose to the fetus has exceeded 450 mrem by the time a woman declares her pregnancy, the total additional occupational dose to the fetus for the rest of the pregnancy must not exceed 50 mrem.
    4. The dose received by the fetus over the course of the pregnancy should be delivered at a reasonably uniform rate; the rate of exposure should avoid substantial variation.
    5. Monitoring (personnel monitors and/or bioassays, as appropriate) shall be provided for any declared pregnant woman who is likely to receive a dose in excess of 10 % of the dose limits specified above.

B. Statement Concerning Alternatives

  • To comply with NRC regulations, Baylor University has established a Declared Pregnant Worker Program which is available to all pregnant radiation workers. It is the responsibility of a pregnant radiation worker to decide whether to formally declare the pregnancy to Baylor University for the purpose of controlling radiation exposure to the unborn baby.

    1. In order to make a declaration of pregnancy, a pregnant worker fills out the Baylor University Declaration of Pregnancy form and either submits it directly to her supervisor or sends the Declaration directly to the Baylor University Radiation Safety Officer. Copies of the form are available in Appendix I or from the Baylor University Radiation Safety web site and are included in the prenatal radiation information packet which is distributed to all female radiation workers.
    2. When a written declaration of pregnancy is received by the Office of Environmental Health and Safety, the Radiation Safety Officer meets with the declared worker and the worker's supervisor to discuss exposure history, job responsibilities, and research protocols in order to assess the dose the baby has received and is likely to receive. The Radiation Safety Officer will work with the worker and the worker's supervisor to recommend changes, if necessary, to job duties or research protocols. For the type of radiation work performed at Baylor University, it is rarely necessary to recommend reassignment or changes to job duties.
    3. The Radiation Safety Officer completes a fetal dose worksheet which becomes part of the worker's permanent dose history. The Radiation Safety Officer reviews dose reports for declared pregnant workers as the reports are received.
    4. The fetal occupational dose limit will stay in effect until the declared pregnant worker
      • is known to be no longer pregnant.
      • informs the Office of Environmental Health and Safety or Radiation Safety Officer that she is no longer pregnant.
      • informs the Office of Environmental Health and Safety or Radiation Safety Officer that she is withdrawing her declaration of pregnancy.

    5. No action will be taken to control fetal occupational dose unless a written declaration of pregnancy has been submitted to the Office of Environmental Health and Safety or Radiation Safety Officer.