Thursday, June 02, 2011

Nuclear Radiation Influencing Sex of Babies

A new study featured in the Environmental Science and Pollution Research journal suggests that exposure to radiation in the womb may influence a baby's sex. Reviewing male-to-female ratios around the world in relation to nuclear events, researchers found that areas exposed to high levels of radiation had a higher male-to-female birth rate.

The study out of Germany is one of the few to reveal significant hereditary effects on children of parents who are exposed to radiation. Previous research has suggested that men exposed to radiation tend to produce more male offspring and women, more females.  However, the findings do not determine if the different ratio is due to the births of fewer girls or more boys.

Scientists compared the sex ratios of babies born in Europe directly following Chernobyl, to sex ratios of babies born in the United States during the same period. The elevated number of male babies born in Europe was significant. The researchers discovered a similar increase in Germany and Switzerland among populations living within 22 miles of nuclear facilities. The sex ratios in the United States and Europe also saw an increase in male babies between 1964 and 1973, just after the Partial Test Ban Treaty in 1963, which pushed widespread nuclear weapon testing underground.

This new research leaves a lot of questions unanswered, but helps further our understanding of the effects of nuclear radiation on unborn babies. 

How do you feel about nuclear power?

Nuclear Radiation Affects Sex of Babies, Study Suggests [ScienceDaily]
The human sex odds at birth after the atmospheric atomic bomb tests, after Chernobyl, and in the vicinity of nuclear facilities [SpringerLink]