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Fukushima fallout sickens U.S. babies?

Children born in Pacific coastal states in 2011 may be at greatest risk.

By Anne Hurley Apr 4, 2013 1:51AM

It's already well known how devastating the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear reactor meltdown was for Japan -- dramatic spikes in radiation-related illnesses, an increase in likely cancer deaths over the next several years, and pollution which may never truly be cleaned up.

A new study suggests what many worldwide have feared -- that the devastation from the traveling radiation has in fact sickened infants in other countries, including babies born shortly after the incident in Hawaii, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and California.

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The study, conducted by scientists with the Radiation and Public Health Project, found that babies born shortly after the incident were 28 percent more likely to suffer from congenital hypothyroidism than were children born in those states during the same period one year earlier. In the rest of the U.S., which received less radioactive fallout, the risks actually decreased slightly compared with the year before.

The explosions produced the radioisotope iodine-131, which floated east over the Pacific Ocean and landed through precipitation on West Coast states as well as other Pacific countries. The levels of that isotope were measured in levels hundreds of times greater than supposedly safe levels. Radioactive iodine accumulates in human thyroid glands, and,  in babies and fetuses, the radiation can stunt the growth and development of both the body and the brain. That condition is congenital hypothyroidism (which, luckily, is treatable when and if detected early).

Fukushima fallout appeared to affect all areas of the U.S., and was especially large in some, mostly in the western part of the nation, the study said. Even worse, other conditions affecting babies born in that time frame may have been caused or worsened by Fukushima, the researchers said.

"[State and federal] health departments will soon have [data] available for other 2010 and 2011 indicators of fetal/infant health, including fetal deaths, premature births, low weight births, neonatal deaths, infant deaths, and birth defects.”

Scary? You bet. But information is power. If you have a baby born in March or April 2011 and you live on the Pacific Coast of the U.S. (or other Pacific countries), ask your pediatrician to test your child for congenital hypothyroidism -- and anything else he or she believes could have been caused by radiation.

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436Comments
Apr 4, 2013 10:05PM
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So was anyone warned to take precautions, if not why?
Are the migratory fish we are consuming safe or not?
Where is the real news reporting in this country?
Apr 4, 2013 10:32PM
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Thanks for the warnings when it really mattered!  Scientists basically said the amount of radiation in the water was harmless back in March 2011.  Guess what? They were wrong again and now our babies have to pay the price.  Their present and future health care should be taken care of by the US and Japanese government. This is an absolute failure from both governments.  Makes me sick to my stomach
Apr 4, 2013 10:10PM
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I might have been nice to get this info before it got here.
Apr 4, 2013 10:31PM
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The U.S. state and federal shut down monitoring stations in California six months after the disaster right when radiation started to spike.  Why? 
Apr 4, 2013 10:31PM
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What about the food crops grown on the west coast?  Baby food???
Apr 4, 2013 10:17PM
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So why, then, is Japan still dumping radioactive water into the ocean? Guess they don't care that the rest of the globe shares that seawater too. :(
Apr 4, 2013 10:13PM
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and then you have countries like north korea and iran spouting of f their mouths about nuclear attack.. its just proves they are totally wreckless and irrisponsible whe n it comes to anything nuclear..  and personally i think every nation in th world should get serious about abolishing nuclear weapons and even nuclear energy off the face oft he earth... before its too late...japan should be a wake upcall for the world.
Apr 4, 2013 10:01PM
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I really don't think that many people took potassium iodide especially for the fact you said it was hard to find . I have it and have had it for a while but wouldn't have taken it if i were pregnant. I  would also like to see the data and the study myself ;but I won't poo-poo either side till I hear more. (added to the reply of the original post)
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