BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Health  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
Medical notes
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Wednesday, 26 June, 2002, 18:02 GMT 19:02 UK
Chernobyl scare dismissed by experts
Chernobyl
The Chernobyl disaster happened in 1986
Claims that the Chernobyl disaster may have caused child deaths and birth defects in the UK have been attacked.

John Urquhart, a statistician from Newcastle, told New Scientist magazine that, between 1986 and 1989, there were both higher than normal rates of infant deaths.

In addition, there were hundreds more cases of birth defects such as cleft palate, spina bifida and Down's syndrome, he said.

He suggested that radiation fall-out drifting from the Chernobyl explosion in 1986 was a possible cause.

He told the magazine: "We've probably been too complacent about health effects from Chernobyl in western Europe."

However, other experts say there little hard evidence to support this link.

Urquhart looked at 80,000 birth defects in children born in the 15 health regions of England and Wales between 1983 and 1992.

He found the increased cases were concentrated in five of them, Northern, North-western, Trent, South western, and South West Thames.

Clear of danger

However, records from studies carried out by the National Radiological Protection Board in the wake of the disaster showed that the radioactive "plume" which reached the UK did not even reach the south west of England, and was most evident on the hills of north Wales, cumbria and southern Scotland.

Dr Michael Clark, from the NRPB, told BBC News Online: "The assertion that the UK received 40% of the radiation dose of the Ukraine is simply not true.

"Other studies, in Hungary and Germany, and even in Ukraine itself, have found no link between the disaster and infant mortality.

"There have been other health effects in Ukraine, such as an increase in thyroid cancers, but not infant mortality."

Virus theory

The study does not rule out the influence of any other potential factor apart from Chernobyl for the claimed rise in infant mortality and birth defects.

The New Scientist article suggests that radioactivity from Chernobyl may have damaged the immune system of the parents or the children, rendering them more vulnerable to viruses.

Dr Clark said: "These results need to be looked at again by a professional epidemiologist to confirm the findings."

See also:

24 May 99 | Science/Nature
29 Apr 02 | Science/Nature
26 Apr 02 | Europe
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Health stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Health stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes