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Simple MRIs Safe for Children, Study Says
Date:10/7/2011

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Similarly, the risk of dying from an MRI scan (four for every 100 million scans) is much less than the risk of dying in a car accident (six for every 100 million car trips for children 14 and under and 40 per hundred million rides for teens 15 to 19), the study revealed.

Also, the risk of suffering psychological hardship, such as claustrophobia and/or noise disturbances, appeared to be greater among children struggling with anxiety disorders than it did among those exposed to an MRI.

But the MRI-associated chance that a child would develop either gastrointestinal issues (an 18 to 37 percent risk) or motor imbalance (a 66 to 85 percent risk) was deemed to be above reasonable safety standards.

And use of a contrast dye appeared to unduly raise the risk for developing a fever, headache or an anaphylaxis reaction.

The team therefore concluded that while MRIs themselves are safe for children in a clinical trial setting, the use of contrast dyes and/or sedation is not, and should be avoided.

"We urge researchers and [research ethics review boards] to collaborate in the ongoing effort to minimize the risk of harm and discomfort associated with pediatric MRI research," the authors said in a news release from the journal publisher.

Meanwhile, Joy Hirsch, a professor of functional neuroradiology, neuroscience and psychology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, and a director of the CU's Functional MRI Laboratory, expressed little surprise with the Canadian team's observations.

"The FDA has characterized MRI as a minimal risk procedure," she noted. "And this is not something that involves radiation. So, this is not an invasive procedure and there is no incremental risk over time."

"But these are incredibly important questions that are being looked at," Hirsch added. "So you do want to have a clear risk-benefit analysis, and you do want to be careful. So, I would say that if the data suggests that co
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