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Infant Deaths in Alaska: a Fukushima Effect?

A recent article from the Anchorage Alaska Dispatch News on 02-14-15, “Rash of sleep-related infant deaths troubles health officials” bears consideration.

Many of the infant deaths are attributed to babies sleeping with parents, alcohol abuse, poor parenting, etc. Notably, the article stated: “Almost of the families who suffered a recent baby death were low income.” But, has infant care and poverty varied that much in the past decade?

Infant mortality in Alaska has been falling for years, however 122 infants died in 2012-2013, compared to 85 deaths two years before.

Research of causes of this highly unexpected increase is needed, and consideration should be given to the arrival of radioactive fallout from Fukushima after the 2011 meltdown. Radiation levels were highest in Alaska, Hawaii and the Pacific west coast .

Since we know the un-born and young are at greater risk from exposure to nuclear radiation, effects that have been documented since the Marshall Islands nuclear tests, x-rays of pregnant women, and the Chernobyl catastrophe of 1986.

According to the CDC, infant (<1 year) deaths in Alaska have been falling steadily, but increaseds after 2011:

2010-2011    390.82 per 100,000 births(86 deaths)

2012-2013    533.66 per 100,000 births (122 deaths)

This is a 37% increase in the rate per 100,000

Few data exist, but CDC did collect gross beta in air (picocuries per cubic meter).  The period March 15 to April 30 in 2011 was the peak period when Fukushima fallout entered the environment.

For Anchorage AK, the levels are:

March 15 to April 30, 2010 (14 measurements) .0029 pCi/m3

March 15 to April 30, 2011 (13 measurements) .0113 pCi/m3

Dividing .0113 / .0029 and you get a ratio 3.86 times higher in 2011.

The 2011/2010 ratio for the rest of the year was 0.79 (2010 was actually higher than 2011).

Gross beta isn’t the most precise measure, but it is indicative of other isotopes that are documented from Fukushima.

After Chernobyl, and significantly, in Belarus, data confirmed elevated Cs-137 levels and adverse effects upon the blood, blood vessels and hearts of children.  This research, by Bandashevsky demonstrated the link between Cs-137 and heart damage in Belarus’ children and in laboratory animals, and earned him a prison sentence.

We know that high and continuing levels of isotopes, including Cs-137 are being released from the damaged Fukushima plants.  Cs-137, like potassium becomes deposited in soft tissue.

As for the infant deaths in Alaska, we hope that careful and complete autopsies were performed on the dead children, and that levels of radioisotopes be measured in humans and wildlife.

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

Joseph Mangano, MPH MBA, is the author of Mad Science (pub. 2012) as well and many articles on the effects of nuclear power. He is an epidemiologist, and Executive Director of the Radiation and Public Health Project and can be reached at:  (www.radiation.org).