Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Nuclear radiation affects sex of babies, study suggests

Date:
May 27, 2011
Source:
Springer Science+Business Media
Summary:
Ionizing radiation is not without danger to human populations. Indeed, exposure to nuclear radiation leads to an increase in male births relative to female births, according to a new study by researchers in Germany. Their work shows that radiation from atomic bomb testing before the Partial Test Ban Treaty in 1963, the Chernobyl accident, and from living near nuclear facilities, has had a long-term negative effect on the ratio of male to female human births (sex odds).

A dense column of smoke rises more than 60,000 feet into the air over the Japanese port of Nagasaki, the result of an atomic bomb, the second ever used in warfare, dropped on the industrial center August 8, 1945, from a U.S. B-29 Superfortress.
Credit: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

Ionizing radiation is not without danger to human populations. Indeed, exposure to nuclear radiation leads to an increase in male births relative to female births, according to a new study by Hagen Scherb and Kristina Voigt from the Helmholtz Zentrum Mόnchen.

Their work shows that radiation from atomic bomb testing before the Partial Test Ban Treaty in 1963, the Chernobyl accident, and from living near nuclear facilities, has had a long-term negative effect on the ratio of male to female human births (sex odds). The research is published in the June issue of Springer's journal Environmental Science and Pollution Research.

Ionizing radiation from nuclear activity is known to have mutagenic properties and is therefore likely to have detrimental reproductive effects. It is thought that it may cause men to father more sons and mothers to give birth to more girls. Scherb and Voigt look at the long-term effects of radiation exposure on sex odds -- a unique genetic indicator that may reveal differences in seemingly normal as well as adverse pregnancy outcomes between maternal exposure and paternal exposure. In particular, they focus on sex odds data with respect to global atmospheric atomic bomb test fallout in Western Europe and the US, fallout due to nuclear accidents in the whole of Europe, and radioactive releases from nuclear facilities under normal operating conditions in Switzerland and Germany.

Their analyses show a significant male-female gap in all three cases:

  • Increases in male births relative to female births in Europe and the US between 1964-1975 are a likely consequence of the globally emitted and dispersed atmospheric atomic bomb test fallout, prior to the test ban in 1963, that affected large human populations overall after a certain delay.
  • There was a significant jump of sex odds in Europe in the year 1987 following Chernobyl, whereas no such similar effect was seen in the US, which was less exposed to the consequences of the catastrophe.
  • Among populations living in the proximity of nuclear facilities (within 35km or 22 miles), the sex odds also increased significantly in both Germany and Switzerland during the running periods of those facilities.

Taken together these findings show a long-term, dose-dependent impact of radiation exposure on human sex odds, proving cause and effect. What is less clear is whether this increase in male births relative to female births is the result of a reduced frequency of female births or an increased number of male births. The authors estimate that the deficit of births and the number of stillborn or impaired children after the global releases of ionizing radiation amount to several millions globally.

Scherb and Voigt conclude: "Our results contribute to disproving the established and prevailing belief that radiation-induced hereditary effects have yet to be detected in human populations. We find strong evidence of an enhanced impairment of humankind's genetic pool by artificial ionizing radiation."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Springer Science+Business Media. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Hagen Scherb, Kristina Voigt. The human sex odds at birth after the atmospheric atomic bomb tests, after Chernobyl, and in the vicinity of nuclear facilities. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 2011; 18 (5): 697 DOI: 10.1007/s11356-011-0462-z

Cite This Page:

Springer Science+Business Media. "Nuclear radiation affects sex of babies, study suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 May 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110526091308.htm>.
Springer Science+Business Media. (2011, May 27). Nuclear radiation affects sex of babies, study suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110526091308.htm
Springer Science+Business Media. "Nuclear radiation affects sex of babies, study suggests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110526091308.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

AP (July 30, 2014) — British officials said on Wednesday that driverless cars will be tested on roads in as many as three cities in a trial program set to begin in January. Officials said the tests will last up to three years. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

AP (July 30, 2014) — A ruptured 93-year-old water main left the UCLA campus awash in 8 million gallons of water in the middle of California's worst drought in decades. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow

Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow

AP (July 30, 2014) — Smartphone powered paper airplane that was popular on crowdfunding website KickStarter makes its debut at Wisconsin airshow (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.K. To Allow Driverless Cars On Public Roads

U.K. To Allow Driverless Cars On Public Roads

Newsy (July 30, 2014) — Driverless cars could soon become a staple on U.K. city streets, as they're set to be introduced to a few cities in 2015. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:  

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile iPhone Android Web
      Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins