Monday 29 August 2011

Children's Thyroid Tests

Dear All
We have a new prime minister - Noda. Maehara got knocked out in the first round.
Noda gave an unusual acceptance speech. Likened himself to a dojo (どじょう) or loach, a thing a bit like an eel but about 3 inches long, which lives in rice fields and ditches. He explained by saying he wasn't handsome but would work his guts off for the people. A safe pair of hands, I guess. I wish him luck. There are so many problems to sort out.

I thought today I'd pass on some conversations that have been going on in a foreigners forum here, 'Fukushima Info' on Facebook. Parents are worried about the results of thyroid tests conducted on 1,000 children between 24 and 30 March. Half the children showed some exposure (iodine-131) but the usual explanation was given: levels are low and no further tests are required.

But that's worrying for parents. Iodine has a half life of five to seven days so the children could have been exposed to higher levels before the tests. And their DNA could have been damaged then and it wouldn't show up on the tests.

Some comfort then in the fact that the prefecture has said it will carry out lifelong screening for thyroid gland cancer on about 360,000 children in the prefecture who were 18 or younger on April 1. These children will undergo ultrasonography once every two years until they turn 20 and once every five years for the rest of their lives.

But Jeanna put it well when she said:
Why not put together a panel of concerned citizens and have them review all the known data and make some recommendations? It might re-instill some faith in the government? Instead they are just leaving us all to fly in the wind of opinion - we are blown about by the pro nuclear "it's safe" fanatics against the anti-nuclear "it's armagedon" fanatics, and all we want is some reasoned science and realistic recommendations on which to decide how to proceed for the next 20 years. Knowing that your kids will have access to regular screening makes it somewhat easier to stay. Knowing that they are removing contaminated soil from playgrounds makes it somewhat easier to stay. Knowing that they will bring in water if the water and food should  become contaminated would make it easier to stay

Amen to that. That is such a good synopsis of how we all feel.
Here's the link to the article (it's in English).


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  2. Hi
    Thanks for your comment. Can I refer you to a later post when I wrote about a lecture I attended by an expert on thyroids? It's in the December set, 'Iodine and Thyroids' (4 December 2011).
    Those pills you're suggesting supply 130 mg of iodine. The doctor giving the lecture said the RDA is 150 mg. Japanese get far more than that in their diet but others may be short (especially if you cut down on salt as salt is often iodized). But too much iodine is also harmful. So as in all things - moderation.