A recent study in the Open Journal of Pediatrics suggests that newborns in the western US now show increased cases of thyroid abnormalities. The study’s authors are connecting the phenomenon to radiation emitted following the March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant meltdown.
Children born in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington within 16 weeks after the disaster began are 28 percent more likely to suffer from congenital hypothyroidism (CH) than those born in those states during the same period in 2010.
CH stems from absorption of radioactive iodine in the thyroid and may cause stunted growth, lowered intelligence, deafness, and neurological abnormalities. Since infants’ bodies are especially vulnerable and cells grow more rapidly than adults’, they are far more susceptible to adverse environmental stimuli.
“With the embryo and fetus, there can never be a ‘safe’ dose of radiation,” veteran anti-nuclear activist Harvey Wasserman observes. “NO dose of radiation is too small to have a human impact.”
Investigators from the Radiation and Public Health Project conducted the study. “Fukushima fallout appeared to affect all areas of the US,” they note, “and was especially large in some, mostly in the western part of the nation.” The researchers also point to how CH can provide an early measure to “assess any potential changes in US fetal and infant health status after Fukushima because official data was available relatively promptly.”
Health researcher Joe Mangano similarly warned, “Reports of rising numbers of West Coast infants with under-active thyroid glands after Fukushima suggest that Americans may have been harmed by Fukushima fallout. Studies, especially of the youngest, must proceed immediately.”
The Fukushima Prefecture Health Management Survey found that more than 40 percent of the Japanese children studied showed evidence of thyroid abnormalities, which Wasserman says signifies a “horrifying plague.”
Source: Laura McCauley, “Fukushima Meltdown Driving Increased Abnormalities Among US Infants,” Common Dreams, April 2, 2013, https://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/04/02-1.
Student Researcher: Racquel Goldman (Florida Atlantic University)
Faculty Evaluator: James F. Tracy (Florida Atlantic University)