Saturday, April 6, 2013

US Authors Claim 16% Increase in 5 States in the US in Congenital Hypothyroidism in Infants Born After #Fukushima Accident

Authors Dr. Joseph J. Mangano and Dr. Janette D. Sherman also said in June 2011 that there was a 35% spike in infant mortality in the US northwest after Fukushima (and refuted by Scientific American). Later that year, they published a paper that said about 14,000 babies died because of radiation from Fukushima (again countered by Scientific American).

This time, they compared the cases of congenital hypothyroid cases in infants in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington from March 17 to December 31, 2011 with those for the same period in 2010, and found the number of cases in 2011 was "16% greater", with the largest divergence of 28% occurring in the period between March 17 and June 30.

From Scientific Research Publishing, March 2013:

Elevated airborne beta levels in Pacific/West Coast US States and trends in hypothyroidism among newborns after the Fukushima nuclear meltdown


Joseph J. Mangano, Janette D. Sherman


Various reports indicate that the incidence of congenital hypothyroidism is increasing in developed nations, and that improved detection and more inclusive criteria for the disease do not explain this trend entirely. One risk factor documented in numerous studies is exposure to radioactive iodine found in nuclear weapons test fallout and nuclear reactor emissions. Large amounts of fallout disseminated worldwide from the meltdowns in four reactors at the Fukushima-Dai-ichi plant in Japan beginning March 11, 2011 included radioiodine isotopes. Just days after the meltdowns, I-131 concentrations in US precipitation was measured up to 211 times above normal. Highest levels of I-131 and airborne gross beta were documented in the five US States on the Pacific Ocean. The number of congenital hypothyroid cases in these five states from March 17-December 31, 2011 was 16% greater than for the same period in 2010, compared to a 3% decline in 36 other US States (p < 0.03). The greatest divergence in these two groups (+28%) occurred in the period March 17-June 30 (p < 0.04). Further analysis, in the US and in other nations, is needed to better understand any association between iodine exposure from Fukushima-Dai-ichi and congenital hypothyroidism risk. Link to the full paper (PDF):

The authors say that "All US newborns diagnosed with primary CH [Congenital Hypothyroidism] born March 17-December 31, 2011 were exposed in utero to radioactive fallout from the Fukushima meltdowns" (page 5 of the paper).

I don't know if it is scientifically valid to compare only two years, and to exclude the period from January 1 to March 16, particularly when the number of babies born with Congenital Hypothyroidism is not that large. In their previous study of infant mortality rate (which is volatile to begin with), the authors only used 4-week period prior to the accident. If the period prior to that period were used, the authors would have found out that what looked like a huge "increase" after the Fukushima accident was totally within the range for the year. In their current study on Congenital Hypothyroidism, the five states also happen to have large Hispanic and Asian populations who tend to have much higher incidence of Congenital Hypothyroidism, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

From the paper (click to enlarge), "Table 4. Confirmed primary congenital hypothyroid cases March 17-December 31 (2010 and 2011), 41 US States":

In Japan, the rumor of the study (as most non-scientists don't bother to or cannot read an English paper, it remains a "rumor") have already morphed into "One-third of babies born on the west coast of the United states after Fukushima have thyroid abnormalities!"

In the US, a vague headline like this, "Study: 28% Increase In Thyroid Problems In Babies Born After Fukushima in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington", spreads widely. It is even quoted by some on Japanese Twitter. Thyroid problems.

About Congenital Hypothyroidism for non-experts, from wiki:

Congenital hypothyroidism (CH) is a condition of thyroid hormone deficiency present at birth. Approximately 1 in 4000 newborn infants has a severe deficiency of thyroid function, while even more have mild or partial degrees. If untreated for several months after birth, severe congenital hypothyroidism can lead to growth failure and permanent mental retardation. Treatment consists of a daily dose of thyroid hormone (thyroxine) by mouth. Because the treatment is simple, effective, and inexpensive, nearly all of the developed world practices newborn screening to detect and treat congenital hypothyroidism in the first weeks of life.

Around the world, the most common cause of congenital hypothyroidism is iodine deficiency, but in most of the developed world and areas of adequate environmental iodine, cases are due to a combination of known and unknown causes. Most commonly there is a defect of development of the thyroid gland itself, resulting in an absent (athyreosis) or underdeveloped (hypoplastic) gland. A hypoplastic gland may develop higher in the neck or even in the back of the tongue. A gland in the wrong place is referred to as ectopic, and an ectopic gland at the base or back of the tongue is a lingual thyroid. Some of these cases of developmentally abnormal glands result from genetic defects, and some are "sporadic," with no identifiable cause. One Japanese study found a statistical correlation between certain organochlorine insecticides and dioxin-like chemicals in the milk of mothers who had given birth to infants with congenital hypothyroidism.

Congenital hypothyroidism can also occur due to genetic defects of thyroxine or triiodothyronine synthesis within a structurally normal gland. Among specific defects are thyrotropin (TSH) resistance, iodine trapping defect, organification defect, thyroglobulin, and iodotyrosine deiodinase deficiency. In a small proportion of cases of congenital hypothyroidism, the defect is due to a deficiency of thyroid stimulating hormone, either isolated or as part of congenital hypopituitarism.

I suppose the authors want to point to the possibility of genetic defects due to radiation from Fukushima.

Here's US ABC News San Diego Station's reporter Michael Chen quoting the authors and claiming that 39% of infants in California "were more likely to develop congenital hypothyroidism".

Never mind that it is not "likely to develop", because babies are born with it ("congenital"), and promptly treated in the first weeks of their lives. Mr. Chen doesn't ask a silly question like "What if the entire year was taken into account?" or "What is the long-term trend, not just two years?"

The authors Mangano and Sherman say in the paper that "annual data is made easily available on the internet", but I can't seem to find it so far. If readers can post links to such data, I'd much appreciate.


(Update 4/7/2013) Oh great. ABC San Diego news is being spread wide to the Twitter followers of Kouta Kinoshita...


Anonymous said...

According to their numbers, t seems there were around 1500 cases of Congenital Hypothyroidism in 4 million births in the US, among which 40 or so would have been caused by Fukushima.

Although rare, there are hundreds of different congenital conditions. The number of cases vary each year, some years it increases, some years it doesn't.

If we were talking about any other researcher, I would assume they worked in good faith, but for these two... I think they just chose the condition that confirmed their thesis, looked for a publication with which they had some connection and got published without anyone making a lot of questions or asking for data going back at least a decade or so to confirm the general trends or annual variability.

Anonymous said...

Other related information on RITC

Not an endocrinologist or health physicist, just a citizen looking at the big mess we have made and all the time we are spending trying to figure out if we have made ourselves sick...should we add in the long half-life I-129 into the mix?

Vyse Legendaire said...

While I do question the true motives behind this study, you say that "the five states also happen to have large Hispanic and Asian populations who tend to have much higher incidence of Congenital Hypothyroidism"

But isn't it also true that the states chosen were in closest proximity to Fukushima, and thus most likely to be affected, at least from a naked eye observation?

Also, "the most common cause of congenital hypothyroidism is iodine deficiency" – I find this interesting because it is iodine intake that would have helped to prevent the effects of radiation by preventing uptake of Iodine-131 to begin with. And since the half-life of Iodine-131 is very short, it sort of fits in that this would not be a very long term study, however there is definitely a problem with the lack of long term data.

So maybe you have a a few factors working together with low-income, susceptible populations being in the path of the oncoming radiation plumes, or something to that effect.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure an entrepreneurial attorney or two are already soliciting business from mothers on the west coast to negotiate with TEPCO. "Here's TEPCO's chance to settle with us, or we will turn this into a class-action lawsuit!"

Just like the attorney representing US sailors apparently said, as reported in a Japanese magazine.

Fallout Man said...

Mangano's post Fukushima article had problems. That said, the "Scientific" American debunking was subsequently itself debunked by Counterpunch Magazine.

Info on miscarriages in USA from Fukushima fallout – Debunking “scientific” American mag’s cover up (half way down the page, just search for Infant Deaths)…

Note this video looks at the effect on birds in the USA from Chernobyl fallout. This is really chilling, a must see. The US Uni Professor goes on to recommend a book that looked at the effect on people and babies from Chernobyl as opposed to birds. Its a must see. Babies and the elderly will be dying all around the world right now as a result of Fukushima Fallout. Covering this up will ensure many more unnecessary deaths. Its murder.

The bigger story is overall mortality and birth/death rate changes, rather than a focus soley on thyroid disease.

Anonymous said...

Source #22 of the paper is called "Congeneital (sic) hypothyroidism caused by excess prenatal maternal iodine ingestion." I hope the cases detected were not caused by mothers taking stable iodine pills unnecessarily.

But I would say that the sources they use to link I-131 exposure to congenital hypothyroidism are a bit weak? The one I mentioned is not related to I-131 at all, there is one which analyzes juvenile hypothyroidism not CH (#26), another which analyzes the effects of "low doses" of I-131 in pregnant rats ("low doses" in this case being 150 uCi, that is, 5,5 million becquerels: #21), one source which looks like a paper published by Mangano himself in the prestigious The Lancet (#29), but it's not a paper at all, just a comment on a previous study criticizing his work, and another self-published study by Mangano (#32).


Anonymous said...

That Counterpunch article is supposed to have debunked Scientific American??

>The bigger story is overall mortality and birth/death rate changes

Then why did they write this paper?

Anonymous said...

Interestingly, someone decided to add the results of this study to the wikipedia page on Congenital Hypothyroidism:

Anonymous said...

Wiki? This shaky study? That's outrage.

Anonymous said...

@Fallout Man, I read the article from CounterPunch you posted and it does not debunk Scientific American, it actually debunks the article by Sherman and Mangano the same magazine had published a bit earlier:

"One of the CounterPunch critics pointed out that using four weeks before and ten weeks afterwards “looked like cherry-picking the data.” To overcome this potential bias, Sprey collated the death numbers for the ten week period before, then did the calculations comparing infant deaths for ten weeks before and ten weeks afterwards for the same eight cities. His result was a STATISTICALLY INSIGNIFICANT difference in deaths per week before and after, an increase of infant deaths of only 2.4 per cent. To further guard against the possibility of some seasonal effect due to comparing a period earlier in the spring with one later in the spring, Sprey also compared the ten weeks after Fukishima with the identical weeks in 2010. He found exactly the same result: a 2.4 per cent increase in infant deaths over the prior year which, given 128 deaths in the ten week sample, is ENTIRELY INSIGNIFICANT STATISTICALLY."

When I grow old I want to be a scientist too, so I can say all kinds of crazy things.

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