Nightly News   |  June 10, 2013

Hospitals aim to reduce kids’ radiation exposure

Researchers who analyzed data in children under age 15 who had CT scans between 1996 and 2011 examined the frequency and level of radiation doses. They estimate that of the four million scans performed each year, more than 4,800 kids could develop future cancers as a result of radiation exposure. NBC’s Dr. Nancy Snyderman reports.

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>>> our health news tonight involves a new warning for children undergoing multiple ct scans to help doctors diagnose medical issues and the risk of cancer later on in life. as summer rapidly approaches, doctors will see the usual increase from injuries from kids playing outside and oftentimes it means ct scan . we get a report tonight from our chief medical editor, dr. nancy snyderman .

>>> 5-year-old dajon frazier is having a ct scan . his mother is following up on a severe eye and skin condition, and this is the best way to follow up.

>> i just need to make sure he is all right.

>> reporter: ct scans are valuable, but radiation can be damaging to children and repeated or high dosage may increase the risk of cancer later in life. children under the age of 15 who had ct scans between 1996 and 2007 . they estimated of the 4 million scans performed each year, more than 4,800 children could develop future cancers.

>> this is worry some, because ct has the greatest radiant exposure and cancer risk, especially in girls.

>> reporter: there are efforts to reduce radiation exposure for smallest and most vulnerable patients. in washington, d.c., this doctor has been able to reduce the number of ct scans by 30% in the past two years, by carefully evaluating a risk based on injury, illness, and medical history .

>> we look at their mental status. are they awake, alert, able to talk to you? do they recognize their parents? and then we look at a slew of signs and symptoms.

>> reporter: dr. ramond dee meets with parents to raise the pros and cons .

>> will it avoid surgery. the risk and benefit is something that needs to be balanced.

>> reporter: hospitals that don't have low-dose ct scanners can retro witt for $150,000 to $200,000, but they need to make that investment. if your child needs it, ask if it's needed,