A new study indicates that rates of a thyroid disease in California newborn spiked after they were exposed to fallout from the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011.
The peer-reviewed study, “Changes in confirmed and borderline cases of congenital hypothyroidism in California as a function of environmental fallout from Fukushima,” appears in the November 2013 issue of the periodical Open Journal of Pediatrics.
In California all babies are tested at birth for congenital hypothyroidism, a rare disease that nevertheless can cause serious growth problems in children if it remains untreated.
Study authors Joseph Mangano and Janette Sherman of The Radiation and Public Health Project (radiation.org), along with Chris Busby, Scientific Secretary for the European Union Committee on Radiation Risk, obtained information from the state of California related to this issue.
Analysis of the data revealed that for babies born between March 17 and December 31, 2011—the period when Fukushima fallout peaked in the US—rates of Congenital Hypothyroidism (CH) shot up “21% in the group of babies that were exposed to excess radioactive iodine in the womb. The same group of children had a 27% increase of ‘borderline’ cases.”
This calculation was obtained by comparing cases of CH from this group with those in babies born in an earlier period, and in 2012.
Elevated levels of the radioactive chemical Iodine 131 in Fukushima fallout following its March 2011 meltdowns. were found in rainwater and milk across the US, from Berkley to Boston.
Radioactive iodine tends to concentrate in the thyroid gland, where it can cause a number of diseases, including hypothyroidism and cancer.
In a March 2013 paper, also in the Open Journal of Pediatrics, Mangano and Sherman reported, in a study of CH in 5 US Pacific states, “All newborns diagnosed with primary CH born March 17-December 31, 2011, were exposed in utero to radioactive fallout from the Fukushima meltdowns…exposure is elevated during the fetal period, compared to those during infancy, childhood and adulthood.”
The authors also reported, “Just days after the [Fukushima] meltdowns, I-131 concentrations in US precipitation was measured up to 211 times above normal,” with the highest levels in US western states, including California.
“A well documented risk factor affecting CH is exposure to thyroid seeking isotopes such as I-131.”
Thanks to the Environmental News Network and The Ecologist for the information.
Michael Steinberg is a former OBcean, now lives in the Bay Area and writes for blackrainpress.