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Declared Pregnant Worker

Radiation protection regulations allow a pregnant radiation worker to decide whether she wants to formally declare her pregnancy to her employer, thereby taking advantage of the reduced radiation exposure limits established to protect the developing embryo/fetus. A woman cannot be required by her employer to make a declaration of pregnancy, and a woman may withdraw her declaration of pregnancy at any time. A declared pregnant worker (DPW) is a radiation worker who has voluntarily informed her employer, in writing, of her pregnancy and estimated date of conception, which is used to estimate the fetal dose received prior to the date of declaration.

Declared Pregnant Worker Radiation Exposure Limits

Federal and State laws have regulated the dose limit to an embryo/fetus of a declared pregnant woman to 500 mrem for the entire gestation period. If the DPW has received 450 mrem or more at the time of declaration, an additional dose of 50 mrem is permitted for the remainder of the pregnancy. These limits can only be enforced, however, if the pregnancy has been voluntarily declared in writing.  

If a woman chooses to declare her pregnancy, lower radiation dose limits will be applied and steps will be taken to ensure that:

  • the embryo/fetus is monitored for occupational radiation exposure received during the pregnancy
  • your radiation dose remains within the reduced regulatory dose limits
  • opportunities are identified to minimize exposure to radiation in the workplace
  • appropriate action is taken to reduce future radiation exposure in the event of a high dose

Declaration of Pregnancy

Before submitting a Declaration of Pregnancy, please review the State of Tennessee guidance document, Instruction Concerning Prenatal Radiation Exposure and Declared Pregnant Worker Issues , which provides information to help pregnant radiation workers in making an informed decision on whether or not to formally declare their pregnancy.

Declarations must be filled out completely and submitted directly to the Vanderbilt Occupational Health Clinic (OHC), either in person (640 Medical Arts Building), or by fax (6-0966)

Radiation Safety Counseling

Once the declaration is received from Occupational Health, a counseling session and fetal badge delivery are scheduled with Radiation Safety. During this meeting, previous dose records are reviewed—in addition to the risks of ionizing radiation exposure. Copies of  the State of Tennessee Guide and the Federal Regulatory Guide regarding instruction concerning prenatal radiation exposure are provided, and a personal fetal monitoring program is established. During this time, the DPW is given an opportunity to ask questions concerning the safety aspects of embryo/fetal exposure to ionizing radiation and to voice any other concerns regarding the Declared Pregnant Worker program.

For information on accessing your fetal badge results, refer to the Radiation Dosimetry page.

Withdrawal Declaration

Reduced occupational dose limits end upon notification of change in declaration status. Withdrawal of Declaration can be made at any time and for any reason, including changes in work or pregnancy status. Standard occupational dose limits established for adult radiation workers will be reinstated upon withdrawal of the declaration.

Note: Fetal monitoring badges will continue to be provided until the pregnant radiation worker has withdrawn her declaration of pregnancy.

Regulatory Guidance

Radiation exposure limits are also listed in the Radiation Safety Policies & Procedures Manual and on the Radiation Dosimetry page.