Can Babies Be Around Radiation Patients?

If you or someone close to you is having radiation treatment you might be wondering whether it is safe to hold a baby after the treatments.

Let’s take a look at the different types of treatments and when patients need to be careful around kids.

Can Radiotherapy Patients Hold Babies?

Before we answer the question we need to clarify a few things. In most of the cases, it’s absolutely no problem but there are a few exceptions to the rule.

Let’s take a look at the two major categories we are dealing with when we are talking about radiotherapy. Whether the patient can hold your baby depends entirely on which category of treatment we are dealing with. Patients being treated with the first type of radiotherapy are perfectly safe around kids while patients from the other group need to be aware of possible dangers.

There are basically two different types of radiotherapy:

  1. External therapy
    This is the treatment and most cancer patients are having. An external source is beaming directly onto the tumor in order to destroy it. People often walk in and walk out to this kind of treatment because it takes very little time and it is completely painless. There are no risks around these patients for other people after each treatment has been completed. It’s perfectly safe for them to be around kids. This type of therapy is also called “Teletherapy”. 
  2. Internal therapy
    In this case, the source of the radiation is placed within the body. It can be placed inside the tumor or very near to it. Sometimes it will be placed therefore day or two other times it will stay there for longer periods of time. This type of radiotherapy is referred to as “Brachytherapy” and the patient here will get very precise instructions about proximity issues and how close they can be to other people after and during the treatment.

Whether is the doctors choose one of the other methods depends entirely on what type of cancer we are dealing with and where the problem is located in the body. The two types of therapy can also be used in conjunction. In that case, the patient will definitely also know exactly what’s going on and be well-informed about when he or she can be around kids.

When we are talking about kids being around cancer patients we need to know exactly which type of therapy we are dealing with. As you can imagine, having an internal source off radiation in your body can actually harm people around you if you are holding them close.

So it’s important to know if the patient is having external therapy or internal theory when we are considering whether it safe for him or her to hold the baby afterward. The patient will definitely know whether it’s external radiation therapy or internal radiation therapy.

So, as long as we are talking about external therapy such as chemotherapy and other types of radiation from the outside, babies are perfectly safe around the patients.

The patient is not radioactive after the treatment and they pose absolutely no danger to anyone and according to Carolyn Vachani, a nurse educator at OncoLink.

How Long Will Brachytherapy Affect Kids Around The Patient?

This depends entirely on how long the implant will stay inside the body of the patient.

Remember, it’s always decided individually from patient to patient whether this is a procedure that is taking days or if it’s a permanent implant. Whenever the implant has been removed the patient is typically free of radiation and he/she can be around children again.

It’s important to always consult the doctors and nurses when dealing with Brachytherapy because each treatment is unique.

As we wrote above, the patient will always get very clear instructions about proximity to kids and other people after during each therapy session. If we are talking about an elderly patient it’s important for him or her to always bring a younger relative in order to understand and remember all the instructions clearly.

Keep Cancer Treatment Medicine Safe From Kids

It’s important to always keep medicine far away from kids. And it’s really important to remember this when you’re not used to having kids around you.

When you are visiting someone who is having radiotherapy you need to make sure that there is absolutely no medicine lying around either in the kitchen are the bathroom etc. It will be really bad if your kids would get their hands on these pills.

Make sure to always place all of these types of medicines (as well as other types of medicine) far above on top shelves where the smaller kids cannot reach them.

As long as you have this issue covered that should be no problem bout bringing kids to see a cancer patient.

A Few Things To Keep In Mind

  • Patients that are having radiotherapy will typically have a weaker immune system.
    Because the therapy is affecting the immune system you need to be careful when you expose the patient to small kids that often have colds and infections. It’s important to make sure that the little ones aren’t sick around the patient. The cancer patient needs to be exposed to as little infections as possible so the immune system can focus 100% on getting well from the strong treatments it has been exposed to from the treatments.
  • There can be some minor issues with the urine and vomit from the patient in the first 48-72 hours after each treatment.
    This is because he/she will typically be given some cancer treatment medication which will have to get out of the body. Therefore, it’s a good idea to flush the toilet twice and wipe off the toilet seat before other people are using the same toilet. It’s also important to make sure that the patient is washing his or her hands several (extra)  times a day in order to keep all these fluids away from the surroundings. After three days, there should be absolutely nothing to worry about around a cancer patient.

Kids Can Lighten Up The Mood Of Cancer Patients

Kids can always put a smile on our faces with they’re lovely comments and honesty. They have a tendency to say what’s in the room in a very gentle and childish way.

This is especially true for your own kids and grandkids.

So it’s actually a very good idea to bring kids close to people who are having radiotherapy because they will help them forget about the situation or at least give them some relief.

If you have any doubt, whatsoever, you should always ask the personnel at the hospital or your own doctor. But as long as you are not dealing with internal therapy (radiation from inside the body) the patient can safely be around children and even infants and pregnant women.

Other Ways Kids Can Interact With Cancer Patients

If the cancer patient is having internal treatments and there pose a risk to smaller children that are other ways to have close contact.

One of the most common ways to communicate during these difficult periods of time is by using video calls such as Skype and FaceTime. It’s a great way for kids to interact with patients because they are not exposed to any risk and they still feel like they have close contact.

This can also be a great way to shield the kids from seeing everything that goes on at the hospital if things aren’t getting worse. Toddlers and smaller kids are not good at dealing with these kinds of issues because it’s new for them to see an adult friend being sick.

It’s always up to the parents to decide whether it’s a good or bad idea to bring the kids to the hospital.

Ask The Personel When In Doubt

If you still have any doubt whatsoever about your kids’ safety around cancer patients you should always talk to the personnel yourself.

They will know exactly what to tell you and when is safe and unsafe to bring kids near the patients and the machines at the hospital or in the home. You can always call the hospital and ask for specific instructions if you are having any doubts.


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