Scientists discover lower IQ in post-Chernobyl children / News / The Foreigner

Scientists discover lower IQ in post-Chernobyl children. Fear radiation levels affected foetuses. Two Norwegian researchers have found radiation from the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power station could have influenced the intelligence levels of unborn children. Chernobyl’s reactor 4 exploded early on 26 April, releasing enormous amounts of radioactive particles into the atmosphere that were dispersed over a wide area.  Worst hit in Norway were the mountainous regions of Midt-Norge.

chernobyl, nuclear, reactor, 4, accident, explosion, disaster, radiation, contamination, norway



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Scientists discover lower IQ in post-Chernobyl children

Published on Wednesday, 19th May, 2010 at 22:09 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .

Fear radiation levels affected foetuses.

Chernobyl reactor 4
Chernobyl reactor 4
Photo: Carl Montgomery/Wikimedia Commons


A critical period

Two Norwegian researchers have found radiation from the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power station could have influenced the intelligence levels of unborn children.

Chernobyl’s reactor 4 exploded early on 26 April, releasing enormous amounts of radioactive particles into the atmosphere that were dispersed over a wide area.  Worst hit in Norway were the mountainous regions of Midt-Norge.

The results have been published in the latest edition of the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology.

“The Chernobyl accident may have had a subtle effect on the cognitive functioning of those exposed to low-dose ionizing radiation during the most sensitive gestational period,” write Bjørn Rishovd Rund, professor of psychology and head of research at Vestre Viken helseforetak (health trust), and Kristin Sverdvik Heiervang, Research Fellow and the University of Oslo.

A total of 178 teenagers were tested. 84 came from the most contaminated area of Norway and who were exposed to radiation at the time, whilst the remaining 94 came from uncontaminated parts.

The data was then analysed in two different ways. The first method used the 94 as a control group, comparing their IQ scores with the others.An IQ comparison was then made between those exposed during the most sensitive period (between 8 and 16 weeks) and those later on in pregnancy.

“Adolescents exposed to low-dose ionizing radiation in the uterus scored significantly lower in full-scale IQ than unexposed adolescents.”

They also found teenagers who’d passed the most sensitive period prior to the accident and the control group performed just as well as each other.

Other factors

The researchers told Aftenposten the affected adolescents from the most contaminated areas had an average IQ of 100, against 105 in the control group.

“A five-point IQ difference isn’t important in everyday life. But it’s significant when it comes to research,” says Heiervang.

Rund underlines the most likely reason is the radioactive fallout, though he can’t discount other factors in the children’s upbringing or environment haven’t played a part.

“We’ve checked for other possible reasons, such as their gender, parent’s education, number of years at school, alcohol use, as well as physical and mental health,” he says.

Diffuse

They argue their research disproves experts’ claims that levels of radiation were too low at the time to damage foetuses, and it’s impossible to discount such low levels couldn’t have any effect.

But Astrid Liland, head of section at the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority (Statens strålevern/NRPA), thinks the study isn’t conclusive.

She believes more cross-disciplinary studies should be carried out, where the control group better matches those who were exposed to radiation.

“We’re surprised the researchers found quite such a big impact. Medical research has shown that exposing foetuses to radiation can give reduced IQ and cause brain damage. But this referred to a dose of radiation that was 100 times higher than levels were in Norway at the time. It’s possible the radiation may have had some effect, but hardly as great as the study suggests,” she says.




Published on Wednesday, 19th May, 2010 at 22:09 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .

This post has the following tags: chernobyl, nuclear, reactor, 4, accident, explosion, disaster, radiation, contamination, norway.





  
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