With the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors malfunctioning after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the exact levels of radiation are unknown. But some worry that pregnant women in the area aren't receiving enough information about what the radiation could do to their unborn babies.
According to the Wall street Journal, a high dose of radiation can cause a miscarriage within the first 14 days of pregnancy. For fetuses that survive, the Centers for Disease Control says that exposure between weeks 2 and 15 is most dangerous and can result in birth defects, brain damage and stunted growth. After the 16th week of pregnancy, the fetus is less sensitive, and a woman would have to be exposed to as much radiation as 5,000 chest x-rays to produce the same problems.
Experts urge pregnant women to take iodine supplements and eat only non-contaminated food to reduce the risk of birth defects. But a halt to shipments on things like spinach and milk hint that the detection of high levels of radioactivity in foods is something the Japanese government is battling.
A tragic story all around, and one whose consequences we’ll likely be seeing for a long time to come.