The government will check the thyroid glands of 4,500 children in three distant places in Japan to determine whether the 36 percent of Fukushima children so far found to have thyroid growths are victims of the nuclear disaster, officials said Monday.
The ultrasonic thyroid exams will be conducted on people 18 or younger who live outside Fukushima Prefecture through next March, they said.
“It is not unusual for benign thyroid lumps to be found in healthy people, but Japan lacks epidemiological data on this,” a member of the Cabinet Office’s medical support team for nuclear victims said. “The exams will be conducted as far away from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant as possible, where the radiation has no influence.”
Given that thyroid cancer in children surged several years after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, about 360,000 children in Fukushima Prefecture are now subject to the medical exams.
Of the 38,114 children who had been examined as of March this year, 13,646 — or about 36 percent — were found to have lumps or other thyroid irregularities, the prefectural government said.