What about studying consequences rather than causes? Studying birth abnormalities in places where they occur more often than is normal? The Omni-Net Ukraine Birth Defects Prevention Program, came up with this different approach, reported in July 2012. http://ibis-birthdefects.org/start/pdf/BaltimoreAbstr.pdf Measuring radiation is difficult, and can produce ambiguous results. But measuring babies with malformations is a concrete matter. Facts are facts here As Dr Vladimir Wertelecki says “ a baby that has no head is a baby that has no head.”
The program started in 2000, conducting a 10 year study on 5 provinces of the Ukraine – measuring and monitoring all newborn babies. The study, led by Dr Wertelecki, was done in co-operation with Ukraine health authorities. This was a descriptive epidemiological study. It could prove only a difference between geographical areas. It cannot prove the cause of difference.
Within 2-3 years it was obvious that the rates of spina bifida and other defects of the nervous system, were many times greater than expected, particularly in one province. A few years later an excess of conjoined twins (“Siamese twins”) was found. They found other nervous system problems, mainly microcephaly (tiny head) .. After 10 years of study they published a report showing an excess of frequency of anomalies of nervous system and of these conjoined twins.
This was found especially in the northern half of the province – an area that is a unique ecology niche – mainly wetlands. And this area also has a unique population, an ethnic group living there since recorded history. They live in small villages, very isolated, and they rely completely on local foods.
These foods are all radioactive. The soil there is such that plants absorb many times more radioactivity. People there are absorbing much higher levels of radiation. – 20 times more than there would be in soil 50 km. away.
Dr Wertelecki reminds us that there are many causes of birth abnormalities. One well recognised cause is foetal alcohol syndrome, due to alcoholism in the mother. However, the program did in fact research this question. 6 universities joined it in a very well funded and thorough study of pregnant women. It showed that in this Northern area, alcohol use among pregnant women is statistically less than in the Ukraine in general. . Alcohol does not explain the birth abnormalities. Radiation is the obvious major cause.
ABNORMALITIES IN THE DEVELOPING FOETUS- TERATOGENESIS
Little research has been done on the causes of this in humans. Studies on non human species show that foetuses in first three months are about 1000 times more vulnerable to environmental effects.
Dr Wertelecki’s team focused on teratogenesis – changes caused by environmental interference to a developing foetus, a foetus with with normal genes. This must be distinguished from gene mutations, inherited from parents and the two processes have different effects. The genetic, inherited defects are most likely to cause mental disability. But with the teratogenic abnormalities, the baby, if it survives, most often is of normal intelligence.
This process can begin very early, before the ovum has been implanted in the wall of the womb – before the woman knows that she is pregnant. That very early “line” of the embryo can split. In this case – the result is – twins. This split can be incomplete – resulting in conjoined twins, (“Siamese twins”). A fetiform teratoma is a sort of failed Siamese twin, a monster like mass, containing a mixture of tissues.
Abnormalities that are started at a little later stage of pregnancy include spina bifida, ( opening in lower back body wall), opening in front body wall with heart on the exterior, anencephaly (absence of head or of most of the skull and brain)
Later effects – anophthalmia , (missing eyeball) , microphthalmia (tiny eye)
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