Nuclear power plants do not favor malformations?

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Nuclear power plants are said not to increase the risk of congenital malformation of children. Opponents of nuclear power criticize the study as "argumentative support for the benefit of the nuclear industry".

(22.07.2010) According to a study, children who are born in the vicinity of nuclear power plants have no higher risk of congenital malformations than children who are born in other regions of Germany. Nuclear opponents criticize the results of the study as "protecting the nuclear industry".

A study carried out by the University of Mainz on behalf of the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) came to the conclusion that babies born near atomic piles are not at increased risk of congenital malformations. The region's birth register was examined in the study. In doing so, the scientists searched through the registrations of malformations of children that already occurred at birth. A radius of 10 kilometers around the nuclear power plants in Biblis in Hesse and Phillipsburg in Baden-Württemberg was examined. For comparison, birth registers in other regions of Germany were also examined, in which there were no nuclear power plants.

The researchers report that they also compared the rates of miscarriages, malformations and stillbirths. The study recorded all births and miscarriages between November 2006 and February 2008. A total of 5273 children and fetuses, including 5218 live births, 30 stillborns and 25 miscarriages, were evaluated. According to the University of Mainz, there was no difference between the frequency of congenital malformations in the vicinity of nuclear power plants and the comparative data from other regions. Even with the increase in the proximity of the place of residence to the nuclear power plant, no increase in the risk could be observed.

However, it could very well be observed that women who were exposed to increased radiation concentrations at work had a higher rate of miscarriages. As the Federal Office for Radiation Protection announced, however, this result would "be based on a few individual cases". A direct connection could not be proven and should now be investigated further.

Frequency of cancer tumors and leukemia in children already determined in 2007: Already in 2007, the frequent occurrence of cancer tumors in children under 5 years in the nearer region was examined by all nuclear power plants in Germany on behalf of the Federal Office for Radiation Protection. The scientists were able to determine that young children develop cancer more often than in other regions. Blood cancer (leukemia) in particular was particularly common in the vicinity of nuclear power plants. However, a clear connection is still disputed and the BfS claims that the radiation exposure of the nuclear power plants is not alone responsible for the increased cancer-rate of children. According to the "current state of scientific knowledge", nuclear power plants are not solely responsible for what the study said in 2007.

Criticism of the study results The medical organization "International Doctors for the Prevention of Nuclear War, Doctors with Social Responsibility" (IPPNW) criticizes the newly presented study by the Federal Office for Radiation Protection. The study is an "argumentative rifle aid in favor of the nuclear industry". Due to the low number of cases, the study had "insufficient statistical evidence" to demonstrate a "similar effect to the 2007 study". This shows an analysis of the study published in March by the physicist Dr. Alfred Körblein. This complained that the evaluation was only carried out at two power plant sites (Phillipsburg nuclear power plant and Biblis nuclear power plant) within a radius of only 10 km, and that the study period lasted just 15 months. Despite the thin data situation, however, there is a clear increase in the risk with the proximity to the nuclear power plant if the evaluation of the data is limited to the distance range greater than 3 km.

According to the IPPNW, the scientists at the University of Mainz would give the impression that it is "scientifically proven" that children whose mothers live near nuclear power plants have no increased risk of being born with malformations. However, the 2007 study had already shown that the closer a child under the age of five lives to a nuclear power plant, the greater the child's likelihood of developing cancer and especially leukemia. For this reason, the nuclear-critical physician organization calls for the radiation protection standards and limit values ​​not to be based on a healthy, young man, but on the extremely radiation-sensitive embryo. (sb)

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