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J Radiat Res. 2006;47 Suppl B:B67-73.

Genetic effects of radiation in atomic-bomb survivors and their children: past, present and future.

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Department of Genetics, Radiation Effects Research Foundation, Hiroshima, Japan.


Genetic studies in the offspring of atomic bomb survivors have been conducted since 1948 at the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission and its successor, the Radiation Effects Research Foundation, in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Past studies include analysis of birth defects (untoward pregnancy outcome; namely, malformation, stillbirth, and perinatal death), chromosome aberrations, alterations of plasma and erythrocyte proteins as well as epidemiologic study on mortality (any cause) and cancer incidence (the latter study is still ongoing). There is, thus far, no indication of genetic effects in the offspring of survivors. Recently, the development of molecular biological techniques and human genome sequence databases made it possible to analyze DNA from parents and their offspring (trio-analysis). In addition, a clinical program is underway to establish the frequency of adult-onset multi-factorial diseases (diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease etc) in the offspring. The complementary kinds of data that will emerge from this three-pronged approach (clinical, epidemiologic, and molecular aspects) promise to shed light on health effects in the offspring of radiation-exposed people.

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