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

A 35% Spike in Infant Mortality in Northwest Cities Since Meltdown

Dees Illustration

Janettte D. Sherman and Joseph Mangano
Counterpunch 

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? 

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