(NaturalNews) Evidence continues to emerge that fallout from the Fukushima nuclear disaster led to an increase in birth defects and infant deaths along the west coast of the United States.
In March 2011, a massive earthquake and tsunami triggered multiple nuclear meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in northern Japan. The plume that rose from the plant scattered radioactive materials into the atmosphere worldwide. Just days later, elevated levels of various radioactive isotopes were detected in water, milk and soil across the United States.
Infant deaths jumped after disaster
A June 16 report from the Washington State Department of Health notes an increase in cases of anencephaly in central Washington between 2010 and 2014. Anencephaly is a usually fatal condition in which children are born missing parts of their brains or skulls.
One of the potential causes of the anencephaly cluster that was investigated was "radiation from Fukushima release." The state of Washington decided that Fukushima was not to blame for this particular birth defect cluster, because no similar increases had been seen along other parts of the west coast following the Fukushima disaster.
But other effects have in fact been seen in infants along the west coast in that time period. In June 2011, epidemiologist Joseph Mangano and M.D. Janette D. Sherman, both of the Radiation and Public Health Project, noted that in eight west coast cities (Boise ID, Seattle WA, Portland OR, and the California cities of Berkeley, San Francisco, San Jose and Santa Cruz), the CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report had reported a 35 percent increase in deaths among children under one year of age between the four weeks preceding the Fukushima disaster and the 10 weeks following it. Over that same time period, the number of deaths among that same age group nationwide rose only 2.3 percent.
"Spewing from the Fukushima reactor are radioactive isotopes including those of iodine (I-131), strontium (Sr-90) and cesium (Cs-134 and Cs-137) all of which are taken up in food and water," Mangano and Sherman wrote. "Iodine is concentrated in the thyroid, Sr-90 in bones and teeth and Cs-134 and Cs-137 in soft tissues, including the heart. The unborn and babies are more vulnerable because the cells are rapidly dividing and the delivered dose is proportionally larger than that delivered to an adult."
The authors noted that similar increases in newborn sickness and death were seen following the Chernobyl disaster, including in European locations far from the nuclear plant itself. Similar effects have also seen in studies of wildlife living in areas contaminated with radioactive fallout.
Thyroid connection confirmed
Increases in cases of congenital hypothyroidism (CH) were also seen in Western states immediately following the disaster. This is an expected result of nuclear disasters, which released large quantities of radioactive iodine. Because the body concentrates iodine in the thyroid gland, exposure to radioactive iodine can lead to thyroid abnormalities or cancer. Young and unborn children are particularly vulnerable to this.
In two papers published in the Open Journal of Pediatrics, Mangano, Sherman and Chris Busby, Scientific Secretary for the European Union Committee on Radiation Risk, examined CH following the Fukushima disaster.
"All newborns diagnosed with primary CH born March 17-December 31, 2011, were exposed in utero to radioactive fallout from the Fukushima meltdowns," Mangano and Sherman wrote in a March 2013 paper.
A November 2013 paper found that cases of CH were 21 percent higher and cases of borderline CH were 27 percent higher in California children exposed to Fukushima fallout in utero, compared with children who had gestated either before or after the nuclear disaster.