As nuclear radiation spreads around the world, fewer girl babies are born
Nuclear age has led to millions of fewer baby girls being born http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1394553/Is-U-S-heading-baby-boy-boom-Japan-disaster-Study-finds-nuclear-radiation-results-millions-fewer-female-births-worldwide.html Study claims nuclear radiation from bomb testing and power plant leaks hits female birthrate
Japanese nuclear disaster could hit girl births in U.S. Nuclear radiation from power plant leaks and bomb tests resulted in millions fewer baby girls born worldwide, according to a new study.
Scientists noted these types of atmospheric blasts rather than on-the-ground incidents like Chernobyl, effected birth gender across the globe.
Scientists at Helmholtz Zentrum München, Germany, analysed population
data from 1975 to 2007 for the U.S. and 39 European countries. There
was an increase in the number of baby boys relative to girls in all of
the countries from 1964 to 1975.
This was the case in many eastern European countries for several years
Scientists are putting the first spike down to the atomic bomb tests
of the 1960s and 1970s where radioactive atoms were blasted into the
Air currents caught these atoms and then distributed them around the world.
They think the second spike is due to the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in
which the reactor exploded in the Ukraine.
The effects of Chernobyl were felt locally and no effect was seen in
the U.S., probably because it was too far from the disaster to have an
‘The closer the country was to Chernobyl, the stronger the effect,’
said study co-author Hagen Scherb, a biostatistician at the German
Research Center for Environmental Health in Munich.
More males were born relative to females in Belarus – the Ukraine’s
neighbour – than in France.
The study is based largely on Cold War-era statistics, but the
findings are highly relevant for how gender could be effected after
future nuclear disasters.
And in the wake of Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant
accident experts are predicting another baby boy boom could be
imminent, especially on the U.S. West Coast.
‘We do not know how much radioactivity was emitted through Fukushima
and how it will spread throughout the world,’ Dr Scherb said.
‘Maybe it’s confined to just Japan, but if it gets in the water and
the air, it’s possible that we could see a similar effect, especially
on the West Coast of America.’
In ‘normal’ circumstances, baby boys outnumber girls by a ratio of 105
to 100. The study found the increase due to radiation was less than 1
While it sounds meagre the effect actually lasted years before
levelling out or reversing back to normal.
This may be because radioactive atoms can remain harmful for years,
the study’s authors said.
Previous radiation experiments on animals may give a clue for the
increase in male births.
Tests showed that radiation caused damage to the X chromosome in
sperm, Dr Scherb said.
A human sperm cell contains either an X or Y chromosome, while an egg
only has a Y chromosome.
An XY combination will become a boy, while an XX combination will be a girl.
Geneticist Karl Sperling of the Institute of Medical Genetics and Human Genetics in Berlin, told National Geographic the study is ‘the most convincing documentation’ so far that radiation may lead to a gender bias in humans.
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