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 in the period between conception and the declaration, the embryo/fetus is permitted an additional dose of 50 mrem for the remainder of the pregnancy. These limits will only be enforced if the pregnancy has been voluntarily declared in writing.  

If a woman chooses to voluntarily declare her pregnancy, the 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
  • the embryo/fetal 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
  • in the event of the embryo/fetal radiation exposure exceeding 90% of the radiation dose limit, her supervisor will be notified to alter the job duties of the pregnant radiation worker as she must cease working around ionizing radiation for the remainder of the gestation period. 

Declaring a Pregnancy at Vanderbilt

To voluntarily declare your pregnancy through VEHS Radiation Safety and the Vanderbilt Occupational Health Clinic, you must complete and submit a Declaration of Pregnancy.  Once your form is received, you will be contacted by VEHS Radiation Safety to begin fetal monitoring, if appropriate, and will be presented with the option to have an informal counseling session. 

Prior to declaring a pregnancy, it is advised that you 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. Links to additional information regarding fetal exposure to ionizing radiation are available below under Additional Information & Forms.

Note: It is the responsibility of the declared pregnant worker to inform their supervisor that her pregnancy has been declared.  

Radiation Safety Counseling

Once the declaration is received, you will be contacted by a health physicist from Radiation Safety to schedule a time to meet for a brief counseling session and to receive the first fetal badge.  The counseling session is an optional service provided to declared pregnant workers which goes over previous dose records, an overview of the program, and any questions or concerns you may have.  A monthly fetal badge delivery/drop off location will also be coordinated; your fetal badge will be swapped directly with radiation safety.   

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 - no questions asked. 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, or after 1 month of no contact following the expected due date..

Additional Information & Forms

Radiation exposure limits are also listed in the ALARA Policy and on the Radiation Dosimetry page.