Indexed on: 19 Dec '07Published on: 19 Dec '07Published in: Environmental health perspectives
The number of newborn boys was higher than that of girls in the Czech Republic each month from 1950 to 2005. The only exception was November 1986, when the number of newborn boys was significantly reduced. This has been explained by a selective negative impact of the Chernobyl accident in April 1986 on male fetuses during the third month of their prenatal development.The first and most radioactive cloud passed over the Czech Republic during 30 April-1 May 1986. Concurrent rainfall multiplied the radioactivity by up to > 10,000-fold in specific regions. We verified a hypothesis that the decrease in the male birth fraction in November 1986 correlated with the level of radiation in eight Czech regions after the Chernobyl disaster.We found a relationship between the level of radiation and the decrease in the number of newborn boys. The number of newborn boys was decreased in the six eastern regions where the radiation was strongly increased due to rain that accompanied the radioactive cloud. In contrast, the number of newborn boys was not reduced in the two western regions where the radioactivity was markedly lower.A negative impact of radiation on the prenatal population was manifested as a selective loss of newborn boys in November 1986. This loss correlated with level of radioactivity. The 131I probably played the most important role because of its up-take during primary saturation of fetal thyroid by iodine, which accompanies the onset of the gland function in 3-month-old fetuses.