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Is the increase in baby deaths in the northwest U.S. due to Fukushima fallout? How can we find out? via SF BayView

June 9, 2011

Janette D. Sherman, MD, Joseph Mangano, MPH, MBA

U.S. babies are dying at an increased rate. While the United States spends billions on medical care, as of 2006, the U.S. ranked 28th in the world in infant mortality, more than twice that of the lowest ranked countries. (See Table 20, page 131, “Health, United States, 2010,” issued by the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and the National Center for Health Statistics in February 2011.)

The recent CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report indicates that eight cities in the northwest U.S. – Boise, Idaho; Seattle, Wash.; Portland, Ore.; plus the northern California cities of Santa Cruz, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose and Berkeley – reported the following data on deaths among those younger than one year of age:

4 weeks ending March 19, 2011: 37 deaths (average 9.25 per week)
10 weeks ending May 28, 2011: 125 deaths (average 12.50 per week)

This amounts to an increase of 35 percent – the total for the entire U.S. rose about 2.3 percent – and is statistically significant. Of further significance is that those dates include the four weeks before and the 10 weeks after the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant disaster. In 2001 U.S. infant mortality was 6.834 per 1,000 live births, increasing to 6.845 in 2007. All years from 2002 to 2007 were higher than the 2001 rate.

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