Counter to rumor, Fukushima Prefecture has not seen rising rates of miscarriages or abortions due to radiation exposure — or fear of it — since the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11 last year, a survey reveals.
The finding suggests that radiation released from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, or stress related to it, has probably not seriously affected the physical or mental health of pregnant women in Fukushima.
“Of course, we didn’t believe the rumor, but we just wanted to confirm that it was groundless,” said Fukushima Medical University professor Keiya Fujimori, who led the survey team.
Last May, the team asked 81 hospitals and private clinics to report on the number of miscarriages and abortions every two months, he said. The team had compiled valid responses from 74 medical institutes as of January.
They found there were about 10 miscarriages and about 18 abortions per 100 pregnancies, essentially the same rates as before the quake, he said.
The national average for miscarriages is about 10 percent. And although 18 percent is higher than the national average for abortions, Fukushima’s rate has tended to be higher than other prefectures, he added.
The survey included only medical institutions that have remained in Fukushima.
The results were published in the March edition of the journal Perinatal Medicine.
Food passes Swiss test
A recent radiation test conducted by the Swiss government has not found any sample of Japanese food available in Switzerland exceeding the legal limit.
An inspection agency said Monday that the test covered 99 samples of Japanese food circulating in the country, such as tea, seafood, vegetables, fruit and rice. The samples were selected at random last November to be screened for radioactive cesium and other nuclear materials, it said.
As with the European Union, Switzerland has limited food imports from Japan, in principle, to items produced in areas other than 11 prefectures including Fukushima, Miyagi and Tokyo, following the March 2011 accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.