by Jonathan Benson
April 15, 2013
New peer-reviewed research published in the Open Journal of
airborne beta levels in Pacific/West Coast US States and trends in
hypothyroidism among newborns after the Fukushima nuclear meltdown)
raises fresh concerns about the health effects of the Fukushima
Daiichi nuclear disaster on American children and babies.
As has long been suspected by those with
an understanding of the widespread reach of radioactive fallout from
Fukushima, newborns living in,
other West Coast states,
...appear to have been directly affected
by Fukushima fallout in a serious way, which is reflected by the
disproportionate rate of hypothyroidism observed amongst this
Conducted by a duo of scientists from the Radiation and Public
Health Project, a non-profit education and scientific organization
that seeks to understand the relationship between nuclear radiation
exposure and public health, the research evaluated average rates of
hypothyroidism both before and after the Fukushima disaster.
In their findings, Joseph J. Mangano
and Janette D. Sherman reported that, compared to one year
earlier, babies born between one week and 16 weeks after the nuclear
...were 28 percent more likely to suffer
from congenital hypothyroidism.
increase in iodine-131
...on US West Coast following Fukushima linked to
Each of these states and the Pacific Ocean, according to the study,
experiences significantly elevated levels of radioactive iodine-131
(I-131), as well as various other radioactive isotopes, in the days
and weeks following the March 11, 2011, disaster.
Based on the data, the 2,110 percent
increase in detectable I-131 all along the U.S. West Coast following
the disaster appears to be directly correlated with the
higher-than-average rates of congenital
"After entering our bodies,
radioactive iodine gathers in our thyroids," explains John
Upton, writing for Grist.com, about how radioactive isotopes
interfere with proper thyroid function.
"Thyroids are glands that release
hormones that control how we grow. In babies, including those
not yet born, such radiation can stunt the development of body
and brain. The condition is known as congenital hypothyroidism."
A similar uptick in congenital
hypothyroidism, which is fully treatable if detected early, was also
observed in young children following the historic meltdown of the
Chernobyl nuclear reactor back in 1986.
Because of this, researchers are even
more convinced that Fukushima is responsible for the now-occurring
uptick, which is only just now beginning to be realized.
"Congenital hypothyroidism can be
used as one measure to assess any potential changes in U.S.
fetal and infant health status after Fukushima because official
data was available relatively promptly," wrote the authors in
"However, health departments will
soon have available for other 2010 and 2011 indicators of
fetal/infant health, including fetal deaths, premature births,
low birth weights, neonatal deaths, infant deaths, and birth
For the latest developments related to
the Fukushima disaster, be sure to check out
the Fukushima Diary blog.