There was an increase in the number of operations performed on neonates and infants with complex congenital heart disease after the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami that resulted in a nuclear accident at Fukushima, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
“Although this research focuses on events that occurred in Japan, the potential for nuclear accidents throughout the world is a global health concern,” Kaori Murase, PhD, associate professor at Nagoya City University in Japan, said in a press release. “Our study suggests that a nuclear accident might increase the risk for complex congenital heart disease.”
Researchers analyzed data from annual surveys conducted between 2007 and 2014 by the Japanese Association for Thoracic Surgery. The years that were included in the survey were the 4 years before and after the Japanese earthquake on March 11, 2011. The surveys included information on 45 surgical classifications for congenital heart disease. Patients with congenital heart disease were categorized into two groups based on the time of occurrence during heart development, complexity and the age at operation.
There was a 14.2% increase in the number of operations per 100,000 live births for complex congenital heart disease in neonates and infants. There was no significant change in the number of operations performs in patients aged 1 to 17 years.
“The cause of the increase is unknown, but we should consider the influence of the radionuclides emitted from the Fukushima nuclear power plant,” Murase and colleagues wrote. “More specific patient data such as time, location and amount of maternal exposure would be required to determine the cause.” – by Darlene Dobkowski
Disclosures: The study was supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.