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Radiat Prot Dosimetry. 2008;132(2):241-5. doi: 10.1093/rpd/ncn256. Epub 2008 Oct 30.

Preconception exposures to potential germ-cell mutagens.

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Childhood Cancer Research Group, University of Oxford, 57 Woodstock Road, Oxford OX2 6HJ, UK.


Radiation and other agents can cause germ-cell mutations in animal systems. No human germ-cell mutagen has been identified, but this does not mean that human germ-cells are not vulnerable to mutagenesis. There has been particular concern about the possible health effects on offspring following parental preconception exposure to ionizing radiation-both occupational and therapeutic. A strong association with preconception radiation exposure in the fathers of the cases was found in a case-control study of young people with leukaemia living near the Sellafield nuclear plant in the UK. Subsequent studies of workers occupationally exposed to ionizing radiation have failed to confirm these findings. No statistically significant effects have been reported from studies of possible indicators of germ-cell mutagenesis in the A-bomb survivors. Studies of offspring of cancer survivors who receive radiotherapy and mutagenic chemotherapy have found no evidence of germ-cell mutagenesis. Failure to detect human germ-cell mutagenic agents may be a consequence of inadequate study sizes or insufficiently sensitive laboratory techniques.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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