A bang on the head may do less harm than the X-rays used to diagnose the degree of damage, a study suggests. In research that is likely to have a significant effect on how children with minor head injuries are treated, Swedish scientists have shown that even low doses of radiation can impair intellectual development.
The doses involved are typical of those used in CT scans, which may sometimes be done to check if there is any damage after a bump on the head. The authors of the research say that CT scanning after minor head trauma now needs to be reconsidered.
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They report in the British Medical Journal that the more radiation the boys were given before the age of 18 months, the lower their subsequent intellectual level. Those given the highest doses were about half as likely to attend high school and scored less well on intelligence tests given when they were called up for national service at 18.