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Int J Radiat Biol. 1998 Aug;74(2):159-71.

Radiation-related brain damage and growth retardation among the prenatally exposed atomic bomb survivors.

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Department of Environmental and Mathematical Sciences, Faculty of Environmental Science and Technology, Okayama University, Japan.


Many studies of prenatally exposed survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have shown that exposure to ionizing radiation during gestation has harmful effects on the developing human brain. Data on the occurrence of severe mental retardation as well as variation in intelligence quotient (IQ) and school performance show significant effects on those survivors exposed 8-15 and 16-25 weeks after ovulation. Studies of seizures, especially those without a known precipitating cause, also exhibit a radiation effect in survivors exposed 8-15 weeks after ovulation. The biologic events that subtend these abnormalities are still unclear. However, magnetic resonance imaging of the brains of some mentally retarded survivors has revealed a large region of abnormally situated gray matter, suggesting an abnormality in neuronal migration. Radiation can induce small head size as well as mental retardation, and a review of the relationship between small head size and anthropometric measurements, such as height, weight, sitting height and chest circumference, shows that individuals with small head size have smaller anthropometric measurements than normocephalics. This suggests that radiation-related small head size is related to a generalized growth retardation. Finally, the issue of a threshold in the occurrence of one or more of these effects, both heuristically and from a regulatory perspective, remains uncertain. Simple inspection of the data often suggests that a threshold may exist, but little statistical support for this impression can be advanced, except in the instance of mental retardation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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