It came as a surprise to me and it will probably come as a surprise to many that there has not been any kind of genetic damage to the descendants of persons who have been exposed to even very strong ionizing (radioactive) radiation.
This applies for survivors of the nuclear bomb attacks in Japan, for cancer patients who have been exposed to radiation.
Of course also to residents in the area near Chernobyl.

Background for the following

The damage from the nuclear bomb attacks was terrible, but still less than the damage from the firestorm in Tokyo.
Later, these injuries were highlighted, probably in the desire to prevent the future use of nuclear weapons.
But apparently also used by the old Soviet Union in a political desire to discredit the United States and its allies.
Thus, it gradually it became “an irrefutable fact” that exposure to radiation causes serious genetic damage to later generations.
For example, the nurses who worked with X-ray examinations were of such an age that they could not have more children.

As time has passed, and new material has come to light, we can now seriously question this old dogma.
But apparently, it is still found that people – at least in Denmark – are still being duped.
Now mostly because various self-styled experts and naïve peace activists, quite uncritically, have taken over the old claims from the former Soviet propaganda.

The following is an attempt to collect and evaluate some of the material that gradually has came to light.

Attempting a critical assessment

From Wikipedia and from many other writings, it can be seen that there has not been any increased number of birth defects as a result of the parents have been exposed to even strong influence of ionizing radiation.
The following are excerpts from the link above:

  • No increase is expected in the incidence of congenital or developmental abnormalities, including cognitive impairment, attributable to children within the womb radiation exposure.[47] 
    As no radiation induced inherited effects / heritable effects, nor teratogenic effects, have ever been definitely demonstrated in humans, with studies on the health of children conceived by cancer survivors who received radiotherapy, and the children of the Hibakusha, not finding a definitive increase in inherited disease or congenital abnormalities.[48] 
    No increase in these effects are therefore expected in or around the Fukushima power plants.
  • For the survivors of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, who are known as the Hibakusha, no statistically demonstrable increase of birth defects / congenital malformations was found among their later conceived children, or found in the later conceived children of cancer survivors who had previously received radiotherapy.[14][15][16][17]
    The surviving women from Hiroshima and Nagasaki who were able to conceive, though exposed to substantial amounts of radiation, went on and had children with no higher incidence of abnormalities/birth defects than in the Japanese population as a whole.[18][19]

However slightly different information is given by World Nuclear.

  • Teratogenic effects on fetuses was severe among those heavily exposed, resulting in birth deformities and stillbirths over the next 9 months.
    Beyond this, no genetic damage has been detected in survivors’ children, despite careful and continuing investigation by a joint Japanese-US Foundation.

There are of course many estimates of the number of birth defects, obviously depending on how it is defined.
The following is a guideline.

  • About 3 % of new-borns have a “major physical anomaly”, meaning a physical anomaly that has cosmetic or functional significance.[7]

Thus it will be easy to “find” children born, for instance after the accident at Chernobyl, to show images of sometimes serious malformations, thus appealing to human compassion or sensationalism.
And possibly collecting gifts for own use.

Some, seemingly credible information, see Annex C: Overview of radiation epidemiology, which is a part of a longer article from WHO:
Here you can find an overview of damage from radiation but find no mention of congenital malformations.

From Wikipedia I quote the following:

  • Radiation sickness struck 60,000 Hiroshima citizens to death before the end of the year, but in contrast to popular belief, none of the children who were born of survivors after the attack, showed signs of malformation [24]

Based on the above and much more, I dare to say that everything about congenital malformations and chronic radiation sickness is based upon rumors or falsification.
Even clever use of Photoshop.

In addition, it can be stated that:

After the nuclear bomb attacks in Japan it came as a surprise to the scientific world that there was not identified hereditary damage.

  • From World Nuclear I quote that there have been found genetic mutations in flies, plants and animals that have been exposed to ionizing radiation.
  • At the same post, it will be seen that:
    Some 75,000 children born to parents who survived high radiation doses at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, have been the subject of intensive examination.
    This study confirms that no increase in genetic abnormalities in human populations is likely as a result of even quite high doses of radiation.
    Similarly, no genetic effects are evident as a result of the Chernobyl accident.
  • Apart from conspiracy theories and the like, there is not found anything that questions the above.
  • The old Soviet Union, and for that matter others, have often been skilful at spreading false information that could support their ideological theories.

I might have excluded this last link, if it was not because I was in Tanzania at the time when “everyone knew” that AIDS was developed by the CIA, who had engineered in order to destroy Africa.
This was supported by numerous articles in the media, where “independent experts” presented “scientific evidence”.
Later, but with limited success, some rabid Catholics and Muslims tried to explain that you got AIDS by using condoms.


Earlier I tried to make sense out of conflicting information on related topics and have written the following:

Nuclear power – What is wrong ?
Gives a little of how the media, and especially Denmark’s Radio, uncritically passed on false information about the accidents at Chernobyl and Fukushima.
Unfortunately, without withdrawing.

Radiation Hormesis 
Deals with one, if possible, even more taboo topic:
Apparently beneficial effect of moderate radioactive irradiation. Here you will find references to other material that can be said to be relevant in this context.

Radon and More 
Here I have tried to shed some light on the many hopelessly conflicting informations about Radon.
You will also find an assessment of the obvious false information on the radioactive contamination of the Pacific Ocean following the disaster at Fukushima.

Of course, I will be grateful to receive comments on factual errors, which will be corrected. Proposed amendments will also be received with pleasure.

Thorkil Søe
I am a civil engineer, retired
Address: Brogårdsvej 60-307, 2820 Gentofte, Denmark