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International Birth Defects Information Systems Chornobyl Radiation Ukraine Birth Defects Prevention
Mission: Amelioration, Prevention and Genetic Counseling concerning Birth Defects, Genetic Disorders, Congenital Malformations, Anomalies and Developmental Disorders

Chornobyl

The consequences of the Chornobyl ionizing radiation were lethal and may be the cause of high birth rates of children with anencephaly

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Notes per Visitors  

A must-read - The Effects of Chernobyl Revisited Years Later - An important article by Dr. Wertelecki: The rate of malformations in babies born to mothers living through the Chernobyl event in an area of chronic low-radiation exposure is reported as being exceeding high, among the highest in Europe.

Full Report
Editorial Comment
The Lancet Article
Reuters Report

One of the findings reported is a cluster of conjoined twins in the Province of Rivne, Ukraine.

Chornobyl, Birth Defects Surveillance and Prevention
presented at REBIRTH, RENEWAL, AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT - A HUMANITARIAN FORUM COMMEMORATING THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE CHORNOBYL DISASTER
April 25, 2006
W. Wertelecki, M.D. (Chairman, Medical Genetics, University of South Alabama)

Chernobyl: The True Scale of the Accident 20 Years Later a UN Report Provides Definitive Answers and Ways to Repair Lives (cached)
2006 Press Release by
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
World Health Organization (WHO)
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

As of mid-2005, however, fewer than 50 deaths had been directly attributed to radiation from the disaster, almost all being highly exposed rescue workers, many who died within months of the accident but others who died as late as 2004 ... Dr. Burton Bennett, chairman of the Chernobyl Forum and an authority on radiation effects ... "This was a very serious accident ... however, we have not found profound negative health impacts to the rest of the population in surrounding areas, nor have we found widespread contamination that would continue to pose a substantial threat to human health, with a few exceptional, restricted areas." ... An estimated five million people currently live in areas of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine that are contaminated with radionuclides due to the accident ... 4,000 cases of thyroid cancer, mainly in children and adolescents ... survival rate among such cancer victims, judging from experience in Belarus, has been almost 99% ... "Two decades after the Chernobyl accident, residents in the affected areas still lack the information they need to lead the healthy and productive lives that are possible," explains Louisa Vinton, Chernobyl focal point at the UNDP ... Dr Michael Repacholi, Manager of WHO's Radiation Program ... "the health effects of the accident were potentially horrific, but when you add them up using validated conclusions from good science, the public health "ffects were not nearly as substantial as had at first been feared." ... In most areas the problems are economic and psychological, not health or environmental," reports Balonov, the scientific secretary of the Chernobyl Forum effort who has been involved with Chernobyl recovery since the disaster occurred ... In areas where human exposure is not high, no remediation needs to be done, points out Balonov. "If we do not expect health or environmental effects, we should not waste resources and effort on low priority, low contamination areas," ... estimated total of 3,940 deaths from radiation-induced cancer and leukemia among the 200,000 emergency workers from 1986-1987, 116,000 evacuees and 270,000 residents of the most contaminated areas (total about 600,000) ... Because of the relatively low doses to residents of contaminated territories, no evidence or likelihood of decreased fertility has been seen among males or females. Also, because the doses were so low, there was no evidence of any effect on the number of stillbirths, adverse pregnancy outcomes, delivery complications or overall health of children. A modest but steady increase in reported congenital malformations in both contaminated and uncontaminated areas of Belarus appears related to better reporting, not radiation ... Strontium and caesium, with a longer half life of 30 years, persist and will remain a concern for decades to come. Although plutonium isotopes and americium 241 will persist perhaps for thousands of years, their contribution to human exposure is low ...

Experts Find Reduced Effects of Chernobyl (cached)
ELISABETH ROSENTHAL
International Herald Tribune
Published: September 6, 2005
It says huge compensation programs for people in the Chernobyl region have become "a major barrier to the region's recovery," ... the report concludes that "the largest public health problem unleashed by the accident" is "the mental health impact." ... "People have developed a paralyzing fatalism because they think they are at much higher risk than they are, so that leads to things like drug and alcohol use, and unprotected sex and unemployment," said Dr. Fred A. Mettler ...

Chernobyl: Assessment of Radiological and Health Impact (cached)
2002 Update of Chernobyl: Ten Years On
Chapter VI - Agricultural and environmental impacts
by The Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA)
All soil used anywhere in the world for agriculture contains radionuclides to a greater or lesser extent. Typical soils (IA89a) contain approximately 300 kBq/m3 of 40K to a depth of 20 cm. This radionuclide and others are then taken up by crops and transferred to food, leading to a concentration in food and feed of between 50 and 150 Bq/kg ... The radionuclide contaminants of most significance in agriculture ... agriculture following a large reactor accident are 131I, 137Cs, 134Cs and 90Sr (IA89a) ... caesium and strontium are taken up by plants by the same mechanism as potassium and calcium respectively, the extent of their uptake depends on the availability of these elements. Thus, high levels of potassium fertilisation can reduce caesium uptake and liming can reduce strontium uptake ... The uptake of plutonium from soil to plant parts lying above ground generally constitutes a small health hazard to the population from the ingestion of vegetables. It only becomes a problem in areas of high contamination where root vegetables are consumed ...

The Genetic Effects of Ionizing Radiation on Humans
James V. Neel, IX International Congress of Human Genetics, August 24, 1996
The Chernobyl Disaster in 1986 has created widespread concern regarding the somatic and genetic effects of the resulting exposures to ionizing radiation. Today I would like to provide a perspective ... What, if any, further genetic studies should be taken on the aftermath of Chernobyl? There are two groups of people exposed to radiation in consequence of the Chernobyl disaster who should have a sufficient number of children to provide the basis for a genetic study, namely, the "clean up" workers and those only exposed to fallout ... There will be those who argue that a study should be undertaken 'for reassurance'. I see that as a 'slippery slope'. Perhaps the simplest study would be a registry of sentinel phenotypes, such as Dr. Czeizel will describe. However, if such a study has a sufficient number of indicators, there is the likelihood of one or more false positives, and these are difficult to deal with. Two independent studies in parallel are a partial answer to the problem of false positives, but defining two equivalent study and control populations and finding the funding might be difficult ...

Frequency Changes of Inherited Anomalies in the Republic of Belarus After the Chernobyl Accident (cached)
G.I. Lazjuk et al., Radiation Protection Dosimetry 62:71-74, Oxford University Press, 1995
The study of more than 22,000 embryos and fetuses, and of 4090 neonates with compulsory registered congenital malformations, showed a considerable increase of anomalies of intrauterine origin since 1987. They correlated with the level of 137Cs contamination in the areas, but did not correlate with the preconception dose to the mother from the same radionuclide ...

Health Effects of the Chernobyl Accident and Special Health Care Programmes (cached)
Report of the UN Chernobyl Forum Expert Group "Health" (EGH), August 31, 2005
... the thyroid dose estimates are roughly independent of the level of stable iodine intake, as the variation in the thyroid uptake is compensated by the variation in the thyroid mass ... The findings of recent the Ukrainian/American Chernobyl Ocular Study (Worgul B., 2005) are currently being prepared for publication. Beginning 10 years after the accident, ophthalmic examinations were conducted in 6 cities located in 5 Ukrainian regions or oblasts ... The Chernobyl experience represents a fertile resource to establish rational and representative standards for radiation protection of the visual system and provide reasonably definitive assessment of cataract risk from protracted radiation exposure ... The eye studies reported for children and liquidators show that posterior subcapsular cataracts are associated with exposure to radiation from the Chernobyl accident ... In Ukraine and Belarus there are no large epidemiological studies on the effect of radiation on the prevalence of cardiovascular disease ... it is not clear why the incidence of outcomes that are expected to highly correlate with mortality (acute myocardial infarction and ischemic heart disease) are not correlated at all with radiation dose ... There is a large study on Chernobyl emergency workers that has shown a significant excess relative risk per Sv for death from cardiovascular disease in the exposed individuals ... Cytogenetic surveys of the general population in contaminated areas generally assumed lower priority and began later ... starting about 5 years after the accident ... They reported a number of children with rogue cells (cells with occasional metaphases and many aberrant chromosomes) ... Results of another international investigation dealing with 7 hyper variable minisatellite loci ... Statistical power, however, was limited by the small sample size ... Retrospective FISH studies on peripheral lymphocytes ... may indicate the potential for haematological malignancies ... Little (Little J, 1993) provided a comprehensive review of all the Chernobyl studies related to congenital abnormalities and adverse reproductive outcomes and pointed out that a) the isolated reports of Down's syndrome were not confirmed in larger European studies, b) no clear changes were apparent ... decline in fecundity in the three affected republics has been attributed to the effects of the Chernobyl disaster, no evidence exists that this is a dose related effect ... The birth rate in Ukraine has been declining ... There has been a constant decrease from 12.1 live births per a 1000 population in 1991 down to 7.8 per a 1000 population at the beginning of 2001. The decrease in fertility among women appears to be the result of medical abortions requested as a result of maternal anxiety ... head circumference of in-utero exposed newborns in Belarus, which appears to indicate smaller values in the exposed group. Again the reason for these findings is not clear and the authors indicate the need for further study ... in Ukraine, there is ongoing state monitoring of reported congenital malformations, but there is only limited published data available ... a statistically significant increase of congenital abnormalities in contaminated areas (Zhytomir) ...

Chernobyl : The Effects on Public Health
Andre Aurengo , Chief of the Nuclear Medicine Department at the La Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital in Paris, 2001
For a young child and the fetus, radio-induced thyroid cancers have been observed from 100 mSv upwards ... The contaminated area is not well mapped ... pattern of rain and wind was irregular, the distribution of the contamination is complex ... In Ukraine, Belarus and Russia : one catastrophe may hide another ... For inhabitants of former Soviet Union, one has to distinguish three populations ... Thyroid cancer in children and young persons ... 17 000 young people are supposed to have received a thyroid dose greater than 1 Sv, 6 000 greater than 2 Sv and 500 greater than than 10 Sv ... The birth rate has greatly decreased in Ukraine and in Belarus ... a 1997 study shows an increase of congenital malformations of the fetus after abortion ... the massive epidemic of malformations, which some alarmist media would like to have us believe, is simply impossible ... The incidence of thyroid cancer in France has increased significantly since 1975 ... the Chernobyl accident might be responsible for the increase ...

Chernobyl and the Collapse of Soviet Society
Tuesday, September 6, 2005
Ukraine: New Report Says Chornobyl's Final Death Toll To Reach 4,000
World Health Organization expert Dr. Fred Mettler ... told RFE/RL that the final death toll from the accident could reach up to 4,000 people. "There are about 4,000 children who got thyroid cancer and to date between about nine to 15 of those have died ... The 600-page report, titled "Chernobyl's Legacy: Health, Environmental and Socio-Economic Impacts ... to be discussed today and tomorrow at a conference in Vienna under the aegis of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency ... environmental groups are already taking issue. "We think that the report is trying to minimize the impact and this is not only a lack of respect towards the victims but it also leads to dangerous recommendations, such as relocating people in contaminated zones, which would lead to even more victims in the future," ...

Teratogen Update: Radiation and Chernobyl
FRANK P. CASTRONOVO JR., TERATOLOGY 60:100-106 (1999)
... Chernobyl caused nonuniform radiocontamination of air and land, primarily within regions of the former Soviet Union and Western Europe ... To date there is no consistent proof that this level of radiation exposure was received. Nevertheless, thousands of induced abortions were performed. Radioiodine (I-131) caused thyroid cancer in young children in portions of Belarus, the Ukraine, and Russia. It is not known but very possible that I-131 fetal thyroid exposure contributed to this observation. The relationship between mental retardation and radiation exposure has not been confirmed ... Occasional positive teratogenic studies in less contaminated regions of Western Europe are suspect because of the low radiation doses received. There is no substantive proof regarding radiation-induced teratogenic effects from the Chernobyl accident ...

Petition to WHO President (cached)
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), Geneva, 20 January 2000
The enclosed petition has been signed on behalf of different organizations and by individuals who are deeply worried by the World Health Organization's seeming silence about the effects that radiation has on the health of people ... Agreement between WHO and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), two organizations with contradictory purposes ... There is evidence that the nuclear cycle and its by products, including nuclear weaponry, and nuclear accidents have caused serious harm to people's health. The petition therefore calls on WHO to amend the WHO/IAEA agreement with a view to giving WHO full freedom of investigation and publication, and asks the Executive Board to place the item on the agenda of the forthcoming World Health Assembly ...

Avoidable Tragedy Post-Chernobyl
Rosalie Bertell, Ph.D., GNSH, Journal of Humanitarian Medicine, Vol. II, No. 3, pp 21 - 28
Another misleading human custom is presenting an event as "small" when there exist more traumatic forms of the event ... Unfortunately, many government officials, physicists, engineers have used this tactic to deliberately minimize the health effects of radiation ... For example, some people actually believe that the magnitude of a nuclear accident can be gauged by the potential number of cancer deaths it will cause, and further, that cancer death is the only consequence! Minimalist reporting occurred after the Three Mile Island accident, downwind of nuclear weapon testing, and at serious military accidents like the one which spread plutonium in farm land in Spain. Most recently it has attempted to deny that exposure to depleted uranium weapons has caused severe health damage to the military veterans and the civilians in Iraq, Kosovo and most likely, in Afghanistan ...

Conference on genetics examines implications of Chonobyl's aftermath
George W. Widney, The Ukrainian Weekly, November 10, 1996, No. 45, Vol. LXIV
RIO DE JANIERO, Brazil - Coincidentally, but significantly, on the fifth anniversary of the independence of Ukraine, the workshop "Chornobyl: Implications of a Decade" took place in conjunction with the ninth International Congress of Human Genetics held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil ... the role played by independent investigators, in contrast to experts engaged by "bureaucratized agencies," has been quite modest. The credibility that independent, non-governmental investigators can contribute to increase public confidence in scientific investigations needs greater attention. In the past, reports by various "atomic" agencies have not gained public credibility ... Dr. L. Anspaugh (National Livermore Laboratory, Livermore, Calif.), who spoke as an expert in radiobiology ... In 1988, predictions were made that there might be something on the order of 17,000 cancer cases that would occur as a consequence of the accident. During the 10 years since the accident, 65 percent of internal radiation is from cesium that has been ingested with food ... 50,000 persons/Seivert in the contaminated area, and beyond the contaminated area the estimate is about 300,000 persons/Seivert ...

Chernobyl and the Collapse of Soviet Society
Jay M. Gould, March 15, 1993
A heartbreaking report on the hidden dimensions of the Chernobyl disaster of 1986 was published in Germany in 1991, written by the Ukrainian nuclear physicist chosen to "liquidate the consequences" of the accident. The book may never be published in Ukraine or Russia and the author, Vladimir Chernousenko, now dying of radiation poisoning along with thousands of others involved in the emergency cleanup, has been dismissed from his post in the Ukrainian Academy of Science for telling the truth ... Both Sakharov and Chernousenko were punished for revealing a secret kept from the public from the earliest years of the Nuclear Age ...

"HOLOCAUST" versus "NOTHING HAPPENED": Tales from a Distant Place ... with a Problem Very Close to All of Us
John W. Gofman, M.D., Ph.D.
If health reports are true from Ukraine, Byelorussia (Byelarus), and western Russia - the three republics most contaminated by the Chernobyl nuclear power accident in April 1986 - then low-dose ionizing radiation is either more harmful in more ways than indicated by other irradiated populations, or the Chernobyl radiation doses were actually quite a bit higher ...

Chernobyl's 10th: Cancer and Nuclear-Age Peace, Don't Be Deceived
John W. Gofman, M.D., Ph.D. Professor Emeritus, Molecular and Cell Biology, U.C. Berkeley
A Million Chernobyl-Induced Cancers ...

Thyroid Cancer Effects in Children
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), August 2005
... some 4000 cases of thyroid cancers have occurred in about 18 million individuals who were exposed as children or adolescents during the Chernobyl accident ... Agency is providing US $100, 000 to ...

IAEA-Chernobyl Timeline: Years of Steady Progress
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), August 2005
The latest activities seek to help Ukrainian authorities take the closed Chernobyl plant safely out of service and manage highly radioactive waste ... The Chernobyl plant was closed in December 2000, and entered a new phase called decommissioning ... 2003 - 2005 The Chernobyl Forum: Determines Health, Environmental and Socio-Economic Impacts ... to generate "authoritative consensual statements" on the environmental consequences and health effects attributable to radiation exposure arising from the accident ...

Assessment of Chernobyl Health Consequences meets with resistance
E. Lengfelder et al., Current Concerns, 04-07-2004
Factors Influencing the Assessment of Chernobyl Health Consequences and the Contribution of International Non-governmental Organisations to Research and Treatment of Thyroid Pathologies in Belarus ... The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, has repeatedly placed particular emphasis on the fact that millions of people continue to be directly affected by the consequences of the Chernobyl accident, that the acute suffering including health disorders continues, and that this disaster is a matter of global concern ...

Congenital Malformation and Stillbirth in Germany and Europe Before and After the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Accident (cached)
Hagen Scherb and Eveline Weigelt, ESPR Environmental Science and Pollution Research, Special Issue 1 (2003): 117 125
In numerous official data sets from central, eastern, and northern European countries or regions, absolute or relative increases of stillbirth rates after 1986 were observed ...

Diagnosis and Treatment of Graves' Disease
Leslie J. De Groot, MD, 20 June 2005

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Last Updated: 2008/1/07

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American Medical Association