FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Is the Increase in Baby Deaths in the US a Result of Fukushima Fallout?

by JANETTE D. SHERMAN, MD And JOSEPH MANGANO

U.S. babies are dying at an increased rate. While the United States spends billions on medical care, as of 2006, the US ranked 28th in the world in infant mortality, more than twice that of the lowest ranked countries.  (DHHS, CDC, National Center for Health Statistics.  Health United States 2010, Table 20, p. 131, February 2011.)

The recent CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report indicates that eight cities in the northwest U.S. (Boise ID, Seattle WA, Portland OR, plus the northern California cities of Santa Cruz, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose, and Berkeley) reported the following data on deaths among those younger than one year of age:

4 weeks ending March 19, 2011 – 37 deaths (avg. 9.25 per week)
10 weeks ending May 28, 2011  – 125 deaths (avg.12.50 per week)

This amounts to an increase of 35% (the total for the entire U.S. rose about 2.3%), and is statistically significant.   Of further significance is that those dates include the four weeks before and the ten weeks after the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant disaster.  In 2001 the infant mortality was 6.834 per 1000 live births, increasing to 6.845 in 2007. All years from 2002 to 2007 were higher than the 2001 rate.

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.  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.

Data from Chernobyl, which exploded 25 years ago, clearly shows increased numbers of sick and weak newborns and increased numbers of deaths in the unborn and newborns, especially soon after the meltdown.  These occurred in Europe as well as the former Soviet Union. Similar findings are also seen in wildlife living in areas with increased radioactive fallout levels.
(Chernobyl ? Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment,  Alexeiy    V. Yablokov, Vasily B. Nesterenko, and Alexey V. Nesterenko.  Consulting Editor:  Janette D. Sherman-Nevinger. New York Academy of Sciences, 2009.)

Levels of radioisotopes were measured in children who had died in the Minsk area that had received Chernobyl fallout.  The cardiac findings were the same as those seen in test animals that had been administered Cs-137.  Bandashevsky, Y. I, Pathology of Incorporated Ionizing Radiation, Belarus Technical University, Minsk. 136 pp., 1999.  For his pioneering work, Prof. Bandashevsky was arrested in 2001 and imprisoned for five years of an eight year sentence.

The national low-weight (under 2500 grams, or 5.5 lbs) rate has risen 23% from 1984 to 2006.  Nearly 400,000 infants are born under 2500g each year in the U.S.  Most of the increase in infant mortality is due  specifically to infants born weighing less than 750 grams (I lb 10 1/2 oz).  Multiple births commonly result in underweight babies, but most of the increase in births at less than 750 grams occurred among singletons and among mothers 20-34 years of age.  (CDC, National Vital Statistics Report, 52 (12): 1-24, 2005.)

From an obstetrical point of view, women in the age bracket 20 to 34 are those most physically able to deliver a healthy child.  So what has gone wrong?   Clues to causation are often revealed when there is a change in incidence, a suspicious geographical distribution, and/or an increase in hazards known to adversely affect health and development.

The risk of having a baby with birth defects is estimated at three to four of every 100 babies born.  As of 2005, the Institute of medicine estimated the cost of pre-term births in the US at more than $2.6 billion, or $51,600 for each infant.

Low birth weight babies, born too soon and too small, face a lifetime of health problems, including cerebral palsy, and behavioral and learning problems placing an enormous physical, emotional and economic burdens on society as a whole and on those caring for them.  Death of a young child is devastating to a family.

As of June 5, 2011, The Japan Times reported that radiation in the No. 1 plant was measured at 4,000 milliseverts per hour.  To put that in perspective, a worker would receive a maximal “permissible” dose in 4 minutes.  In addition there are over 40,000 tons of radioactive water under that reactor with more radioactivity escaping into the air and sea.  Fuel rods are believed to have melted and sunk to the bottom of reactors 1, 2, and 3.

Tepco, the corporate owner took more than two months to confirm the meltdowns and admitted lying about the levels of destruction and subsequent contamination, resulting in “Public Distrust.” Over 100,000 tons of radioactive waste are on the site.

Why should we care if there may be is a link between Fukushima and the death of children?  Because we need to measure the actual levels of isotopes in the environment and in the bodies of people exposed to determine if the fallout is killing our most vulnerable.  The research is not technically difficult ? the political and economic barriers may be greater.  Bandshevsky and others did it and confirmed the connection.  The information is available in the Chernobyl book.  (Previously cited.)

The biological findings of Chernobyl cannot be ignored:  isotope incorporation will determine the future of all life on earth ? animal, fish, bird, plant and human.  It is crucial to know this information if we are to avoid further catastrophic damage.

Janette D. Sherman, M. D. is the author of Life’s Delicate Balance: Causes and Prevention of Breast Cancer and Chemical Exposure and Disease, and is a specialist in internal medicine and toxicology. She edited the book Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and Nature, written by A. V. Yablokov, V. B., Nesterenko and A. V. Nesterenko, published by the New York Academy of Sciences in 2009.  Her primary interest is the prevention of illness through public education.  She can be reached at:  toxdoc.js@verizon.net and www.janettesherman.com

Joseph Mangano is an epidemiologist, and Executive Director of the Radiation and Public Health Project research group.

Janette D. Sherman, M. D. is the author of Life’s Delicate Balance: Causes and Prevention of Breast Cancer and Chemical Exposure and Disease, and is a specialist in internal medicine and toxicology. She edited the book Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and Nature, written by A. V. Yablokov, V. B., Nesterenko and A. V. Nesterenko, published by the New York Academy of Sciences in 2009.  Her primary interest is the prevention of illness through public education.  She can be reached at:  toxdoc.js@verizon.netand www.janettesherman.com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

January 23, 2017
John Wight
Trump’s Inauguration: Hail Caesar!
Mark Schuller
So What am I Doing Here? Reflections on the Inauguration Day Protests
Patrick Cockburn
The Rise of Trump and Isis Have More in Common Than You Might Think
Binoy Kampmark
Ignored Ironies: Women, Protest and Donald Trump
Gregory Barrett
Flag, Cap and Screen: Hollywood’s Propaganda Machine
Gareth Porter
US Intervention in Syria? Not Under Trump
L. Ali Khan
Trump’s Holy War against Islam
Gary Leupp
An Al-Qaeda Attack in Mali:  Just Another Ripple of the Endless, Bogus “War on Terror”
Norman Pollack
America: Banana Republic? Far Worse
Bob Fitrakis - Harvey Wasserman
We Mourn, But We March!
Kim Nicolini
Trump Dump: One Woman March and Personal Shit as Political
William Hawes
We Are on Our Own Now
Martin Billheimer
Last Tango in Moscow
Colin Todhunter
Development and India: Why GM Mustard Really Matters
Mel Gurtov
Trump’s America—and Ours
David Mattson
Fog of Science II: Apples, Oranges and Grizzly Bear Numbers
Clancy Sigal
Who’s Up for This Long War?
Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
Brian Cloughley
What Money Can Buy: the Quiet British-Israeli Scandal
Mel Gurtov
Donald Trump’s Lies And Team Trump’s Headaches
Kent Paterson
Mexico’s Great Winter of Discontent
Norman Solomon
Trump, the Democrats and the Logan Act
David Macaray
Attention, Feminists
Yves Engler
Demanding More From Our Media
James A Haught
Religious Madness in Ulster
Dean Baker
The Economics of the Affordable Care Act
Patrick Bond
Tripping Up Trumpism Through Global Boycott Divestment Sanctions
Robert Fisk
How a Trump Presidency Could Have Been Avoided
Robert Fantina
Trump: What Changes and What Remains the Same
David Rosen
Globalization vs. Empire: Can Trump Contain the Growing Split?
Elliot Sperber
Dystopia
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail