Study links nuclear disaster to increase in disorder in babies

Study links nuclear disaster to increase in disorder in babies »Play Video
FILE - This aerial file photo taken on March 11, 2013, shows reactor buildings Unit 1 to 4, from right in the middle of the photo, at the tsunami-ravaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan. (AP Photo/Kyodo News, File)

PORTLAND, Ore. – A new study is reporting an increase in a disorder in humans, and its cause is being linked to radiation from the nuclear disaster at Fukushima following the deadly March 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

The study was done by two independent researchers with the Radiation and Public Health Project, New York.

What the study discovered was an increase in a certain radioactive particle that drifted to the West Coast shortly after the Fukushima disaster. The researchers said that led to an increase in cases of hypothyroidism in babies born here shortly after the disaster.

If left unchecked, the disorder can cause developmental problems in young children.

Some local experts say people shouldn't panic about this new information.

Dr. Patrick Lew, at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center, said every newborn is tested for the disorder and if detected it's easily treatable.

"So there's medications called thyroid replacements, which you can give to a baby or any person who has hypothyroidism," he said. "It's just like giving a vitamin."

Lew said in general the condition is really rare – maybe 1 in 2,000.

Since there are routine screenings for it, he said there's no cause for concern with the results of the study.

A state medical epidemiologist said there was a slight spike in radiation levels after the disaster but since then it's hardly detectable.

The authors of the study also hope it will spark more like it as more data is needed over time to reinforce their findings.