BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh
BBCi CATEGORIES   TV   RADIO   COMMUNICATE   WHERE I LIVE   INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC NEWS
 You are in: UK
Front Page 
World 
UK 
England 
Northern Ireland 
Scotland 
Wales 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 


Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

SERVICES 
Sunday, 30 September, 2001, 16:30 GMT 17:30 UK
Baby bones in nuclear tests
Nuclear test BBC
Doctors feared nuclear tests were damaging bones
Bones were removed from the bodies of thousands of dead babies without parents' consent and used for nuclear weapons testing, a UK Government agency has admitted.

The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) said thigh bones from 3,400 children were tested between 1954 and 1970.

It emerged in June that the Yorkhill Children's Hospital in Glasgow had been involved in the project - but it has now been revealed that bones were collected from hospitals throughout the UK.

Scientists were trying to establish what effect the fallout from nuclear tests being carried out around the world was having on health.


Regrettably, it is clear that parental consent for the samples was not sought at the time

UK Atomic Energy Authority
Doctors feared that because it was contaminating milk, it could be building up to dangerous levels in children's bones.

A UKAEA spokesman said: "We used child bone samples supplied by hospitals following post-mortem.

"Regrettably, it is clear that parental consent for the samples was not sought at the time.

"I do not know the dates of the rules and regulations - but I am pretty sure in the 1950s doctors would have just said the research was all for the best and the samples could just be taken."

After being incinerated, the bones were analysed for the radioactive isotope strontium-90 - a dangerous product of nuclear fission that the body will absorb into the bones in a very similar way to that of calcium.

The spokesman said the research, carried out in Glasgow and Woolwich, south-east London, led to the end of nuclear weapons testing as it emerged how dangerous the fallout could be.


We need a law that says if you touch our children without our knowledge or consent you will go to jail

Scottish Parents for a Public Inquiry into Organ Retention

"It did become clear that the level was rising very quickly between the start of the programme and about 1964," he said.

A spokeswoman for Scottish Parents for a Public Inquiry into Organ Retention said the revelation was "devastating". She added: "This is only the tip of the iceberg.

"There are so many projects like this and we have no idea how many.

"Parents up until now have had no say in anything that has been done to their children after death. They felt that their children's bodies did not belong to them."

She added: "We need a law that says if you touch our children without our knowledge or consent you will go to jail."

Lancaster MP Hilton Dawson is calling for a full inquiry into reports that the Royal Lancaster Infirmary was involved in the research project between 1955 and 1971.

See also:

17 Jun 01 | Scotland
Radiation tests on baby bones
07 Feb 01 | Scotland
Organ retention reforms unveiled
30 Jan 01 | Scotland
Minister's organs reform pledge
18 Jan 01 | Scotland
Parents to get burial cash
22 Sep 00 | Scotland
Organ retention policy review
Internet links:


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

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


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories