Safety of MR Imaging at 1.5 T in Fetuses: A Retrospective Case-Control Study of Birth Weights and the Effects of Acoustic Noise

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The authors of this large study found no measurable adverse effects on hearing or intrauterine growth in neonates who underwent routine MR imaging at 1.5 T between 16 weeks of gestation and term, regardless of the timing and total duration of exposure.


To evaluate the effects of exposure to routine magnetic resonance (MR) imaging at 1.5 T during pregnancy on fetal growth and neonatal hearing function in relation to the dose and timing of in utero exposure in a group of newborns at low risk for congenital hearing impairment or deafness.

Materials and Methods

This retrospective case-control study was approved by the local ethics committee, and written informed consent was waived. Between January 2008 and December 2012, a group of 751 neonates exposed to MR imaging in utero and a group of control subjects comprising 10 042 nonexposed neonates, both groups with no risk factors for hearing impairment at birth, were included. Neonatal hearing screening was performed by means of otoacoustic emission testing and auditory brain stem response according to national guidelines, and the prevalence of hearing impairment in the two groups was compared by using a noninferiority test with Wilson score confidence intervals. The effect of MR exposure on birth weight percentile was examined between the singleton neonates in the exposed group and a randomly chosen subset of 1805 singleton newborns of the nonexposed group by performing an analysis of variance.


The rate of hearing impairment or deafness was found to be 0% (0 of 751) in the neonates in the exposed group and was not inferior to that in the nonexposed group (34 of 10 042 [0.34%], P < .05). There was no between-group difference in birth weight percentiles (50.6% for exposed vs 48.4% for nonexposed; P = .22).


This study showed no adverse effects of exposure to 1.5-T MR imaging in utero on neonatal hearing function or birth weight percentiles.

© RSNA, 2015


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Article History

Received June 27, 2014; revision requested August 14; revision received August 27; accepted October 1; final version accepted October 16.
Published online: Jan 07 2015
Published in print: May 2015