Fukushima meltdown driving increased abnormalities among US infants

baby fingers

Photo: _-0-_/Flickr.

In wake of disaster, children on the west coast almost one-third more likely to suffer from thyroid abnormalities

Infants on the West Coast of the United States are showing increased incidents of thyroid abnormalities, which researchers are attributing to radiation released following the March 2011 meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

anti-nuclear sign

A sign at an anti-nuclear protest in Kouenji, Japan. (Photo: SandoCap via Flickr)

According to a new study (.pdf) published in the Open Journal of Pediatrics, children born in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington between one week and 16 weeks after the meltdown began are 28 percent more likely to suffer from congenital hypothyroidism (CH) than were kids born in those states during the same period one year earlier.

CH results from a build up of radioactive iodine in our thyroids and can result in stunted growth, lowered intelligence, deafness, and neurological abnormalities—though can be treated if detected early.

Because their small bodies are more vulnerable and their cells grow faster than adults’, infants serve as the proverbial ‘canary in the coal mine’ for injurious environmental effects.

“With the embryo and fetus, there can never be a ‘safe’ dose of radiation,” writes nukefree.org founder Harvey Wasserman. “NO dose of radiation is too small to have a human impact.”

According to researchers from the Radiation and Public Health Project who performed the study, “Fukushima fallout appeared to affect all areas of the US, and was especially large in some, mostly in the western part of the nation.” They add that 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 cautioned, “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.”

Earlier this year, 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.” He continues:

The ultimate death toll among Fukushima’s victims may be inescapable. But the industry that’s harming them is not. Those thyroid-damaged children bring us yet another tragic warning: There’s just one atomic reactor from which our energy can safely come. Two years after Fukushima, it is still 93 million miles away—but more ready than ever to safely, cleanly and cheaply power our planet.

Reposted from Common Dreams.

— Lauren McCauley, Transition Voice

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  1. lookbothways says

    There’s now even greater urgency to move stories like this into the public arena. With the continuing instability of the damaged nuclear reactors, and evidence of at least one meltdown penetrating to the water table, the possibility of major release of highly radioactive materials is very high. Unless there is a major Worldwide focus (with United Nations support) and a huge investment in finance, manpower, and creativity Very Quickly, we are likely to see far more than the damage reported in this study that is now a year old. Transition Voice surely has a significant role to play in making the Facts known more widely so that individuals, communities, companies, and governments can raise the alarm and mobilise the Best & Fairest of every nation to help resolve this matter – if, in fact, it has a resolution! It’s no longer just an issue of commercial significance to be resolved by power grid owner TEPCO. Nor of political significance for the Government and peoples of Japan. Both groups have always had a vested interest in keeping the matter quiet. Evidence from this study should have been warning enough that we are all involved, East and West, North and South. The time to act is Now (and fast)!

  2. James R. Martin says

    ” … which researchers are attributing to radiation released following the March 2011 meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. ”

    This hypothesis certainly seemed reasonable, even probable, to me when I read the article. Then I used Google to search for news on the subject. It looked like yet another example of a very important news story which was underreported. (Most important news is underreported, it seems.) Well, while Googling the subject I discovered another scientific report–cited below–, this one attibuting some cases of congenital hypothyroidism to “excess maternal iodine”. So the causal attribution MAY not be quite as simple a matter as I had originally thought upon reading this Transition Voice article. The reason being that, if I remember right, some folks were taking iodine supplements after the Fukushima disaster. It would seem likely that pregnant women, especially, MIGHT have chosen large doses of iodine at that time.

    I don’t have the facts here. I’m offering no hypothesis. But as one who has studied some science I think a very careful approach is probably called for here, one which isolates causality carefully.

    The other study I cited above can be found online at:

    Thursday, July 26, 2012
    Excess Maternal Iodine Linked to Congenital Hypothyroidism

  3. James R. Martin says

    Another article found online:

    Debunked: Thyroid Problems, Fukushima Radiation and Potassium Iodide
    By: James Hubbard, MD, MPH | April 12, 2013


    I’m uncertain whether or not this article “debunks” the claims of the story published here in Transition Voice. To really get to the bottom of this story would require a serious and prolonged inquiry, even if one uses only secondary research methods, using available secondary sources. I mention this only because I’ve come to be skeptical of pretty much any and all claims to certitude lately. Which is likely to be a good thing with so many people now being so “certain” that our planet’s biosphere is utterly doomed by runaway climate change, Fukushima, etc….

    Such doom is NOT certain. Despair is NOT called for. Rather, we need to slow down, look and read carefully, … and then roll up our sleeves and get to work improving our situation — which is dire. But not … well, certain.

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