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Chernobyl nuclear facility  (Source:
Researchers found that long-term nuclear radiation exposure led to either increased male births or decreased female births

Researchers from the Helmholtz Zentrum München have discovered that nuclear radiation exposure either causes a higher rate of male births or a decreased rate of female births.

There has been a lot of talk regarding nuclear radiation and its effects recently for obvious reasons. On March 11 of this year, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck Japan causing tsunamis and trouble for the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which recently suffered a nuclear meltdown.

This tragic event has caused world leaders to reevaluate the use of nuclear power. For instance, French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for a global nuclear review after visiting Japan, and U.S. senators demanded the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to inspect the country's use of nuclear power.

On the other hand, nuclear power does have its benefits, such as clean, cheap and reliable power as an alternative energy source.

The advantages and disadvantages of nuclear power is a constant game of tug-o-war, but there's no argument that long-term nuclear radiation can have troubling effects on humans.

But in a new study led by Hagen Scherb and Kristina Voigt from the Helmholtz Zentrum München, exposure to nuclear radiation didn't necessarily have a harmful effect on humans, but rather an interesting impact on the gender of babies.

Scherb and Voigt studied those who live near nuclear facilities, as well as areas affected by radiation from the atomic bomb testing before the Partial Test Ban Treaty in 1963 and the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. What they found was that the ratio of male to female births was biased in favor of male births by a noticeable amount.

In fact, they found that there was an increase in male births over female births in the U.S. and Europe from 1964 to 1975, which occurred immediately after the globally dispersed atmospheric atomic bomb test fallout prior to the ban in 1963. They also found a heightened amount of male births over female births in Europe in 1987, one year after the Chernobyl disaster. The U.S., which was not affected by the nuclear disaster, did not experience the same shift in male-dominated births.

In addition, the study found that those living within 22 miles of nuclear facilities in Germany and Switzerland had an increased birth rate of male babies over female babies.

Researchers believe these results were caused by ionizing radiation from nuclear activity, which possesses mutagenic characteristics and can negatively affect reproduction. It is believed that nuclear radiation causes men to "father more sons while mothers give birth to more girls." The researchers looked at the amount of paternal and maternal exposure and concluded that it may have effects on sex odds, but they're not sure if it increased the number of male births or decreased the number of female births. They also looked at sex odds with respect to normal pregnancy and adverse pregnancy outcomes in regards to maternal exposure and paternal exposure.

"Our result contribute to disproving the established and prevailing belief that radiation-induced hereditary effects have yet to be detected in human populations," said the study's conclusion. "We find strong evidence of an enhanced impairment of humankind's genetic pool by artificial ionizing radiation."

This study was published in Environmental Science and Pollution Research.

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By icanhascpu on 5/29/2011 12:26:38 PM , Rating: 2
How long are we going to juice stories out of this incident? You know what else affects the sex of a baby? Everything. Its chance.

RE: ..
By ShaolinSoccer on 5/29/2011 4:04:07 PM , Rating: 2
I remember learning in high school that it's mainly the father's genes that determines what sex the child will be. It's why some countries had kings who had a hard time fathering a son no matter how many women he married. Is that still true? On the other hand, my best friend's daughter has had a child with 3 different men and she's only had daughters lol...

RE: ..
By GulWestfale on 5/29/2011 6:44:10 PM , Rating: 1
um, sluuuuut... only joking, of course :)

RE: ..
By ShaolinSoccer on 5/30/11, Rating: 0
RE: ..
By Alexvrb on 5/30/2011 9:27:14 PM , Rating: 2
Cleary, they must have tied her down and had their way with her! She in no way had any say in the matter.

Does that make her a terrible person or a bad mother? No, not at all! However, quite a few women are really terrible at choosing men - key word choosing. Yes, go for the "badarse" who "shops around" a lot - he's real father material!

RE: ..
By Lord 666 on 5/29/2011 7:06:30 PM , Rating: 3
There is research that shows the females eggs actually have a preference for either male or female sperm. There is photographic evidence of electric communication between the two right before they pair. Possibly this is related.

RE: ..
By Motoman on 5/29/2011 11:30:24 PM , Rating: 4
And the content of that communication?

Rock, paper scissors!

RE: ..
By Solandri on 5/30/2011 3:39:09 AM , Rating: 4
I remember learning in high school that it's mainly the father's genes that determines what sex the child will be.

This Calvin and Hobbes strip seems apropos:

By dflynchimp on 5/29/2011 2:08:48 PM , Rating: 5
In select countries of Asia, real estate prices around nuclear power plants sky rocket...

RE: Newsflash!
By dflynchimp on 5/29/2011 2:10:29 PM , Rating: 1
wait a minute...but...

It is believed that nuclear radiation causes men to "father more sons while mothers give birth to more girls."

this has to be some sort of oxymoron...unless men can have babies.

RE: Newsflash!
By boobo on 5/29/2011 2:33:18 PM , Rating: 2
No, that's in case only one of the parents is exposed to radiation. If both of them are, then they are more likely to have a boy.

well how about
By loganonics on 5/29/2011 5:22:20 PM , Rating: 2
So, yeah, how would you expect the US to be affected by the chernobyl meltodwn exactly? or were you intending to reference Three Mile Island and stating that there was no correlation shift between birth rates of males? Wouldnt that single sentence make your entire article pointless as it directly refutes radiation creating an increase in MBR's?

RE: well how about
By Mr Perfect on 5/29/2011 6:22:51 PM , Rating: 1
They where using the US as a control in that example. After Chernobly, the unexposed US had no birth shift, while the exposed in Europe did. It's just good science.

RE: well how about
By lightfoot on 5/30/2011 12:41:44 AM , Rating: 2
But it's not good science because the two groups are not at all related. There is very little that the American population has in common with the people of eastern Europe, other than the fact that they were alive at the same time. Although some of the Americans may be descended from the eastern Europeans, the vast majority of Americans are different both culturally as well as genetically.

Without controlling for other factors it is impossible to prove causation.

A better measure would be to use the birth rate of the same geographic region (and population) before the accident and compare it with after the accident. If there is a causal relationship, it should be most pronounced in the years immediately following the incident and in those who were exposed to the highest concentrations of radiation.

Using a totally unrelated group as a control stinks of cherry-picking data points. Why was this specific control chosen?

Good science doesn't select their control groups.

RE: well how about
By Strunf on 5/30/2011 7:56:49 AM , Rating: 2
If you speak of genetics there's no such thing as Europeans or Americans cause if you take the population as a whole Europeans and Americans are pretty much the same.
Also it's not some Americans are descendants of Europeans it's most are... In Europe there aren't just white people either!

This confirms it...
By sorry dog on 5/29/2011 6:02:22 PM , Rating: 2
Rosie O'donnell should have been born next to a least then she'd have an excuse...

RE: This confirms it...
By ARoyalF on 5/29/2011 6:12:51 PM , Rating: 4
Why would you put a pig farm next to Chernobyl?

RE: This confirms it...
By ekv on 5/30/2011 2:35:09 AM , Rating: 1
idk, pre-cooked bacon?

In other factual news
By BruceLeet on 5/30/2011 6:53:54 AM , Rating: 2
Germany has decided to phase out it's nuclear power plants by 2022.

RE: In other factual news
By kattanna on 5/31/2011 2:53:44 PM , Rating: 3
The announcement, which still faces legislative approval, was applauded by environmentalists and expected to be popular among voters

LOL and where do they think all that energy will come from? they will have to import more energy or build coal plants to replace that nice clean energy. wind/solar just isnt up to the task of taking over.

and environmentalist call this a victory? LOL

and once the cost of power skyrockets.. im doubting the "voters" will be all that happy.

but hey.. no need to think this one through.. better to rush into action to appear to be doing something.

In-Utero Sex Change FTW!
By rs2 on 5/29/2011 9:48:56 PM , Rating: 3
At least, I assume that's what you must mean with your quote:

It is believed that nuclear radiation causes men to "father more sons while mothers give birth to more girls."

If not, then please explain what you are trying to say. Because if men are creating a greater proportion of male fetii while women are giving birth to a greater proportion of female babies, then clearly something does not add up.

By randomly on 5/30/2011 1:31:24 AM , Rating: 2
It's interesting to note how the people in the study automatically assume that a sex shift is a result of negative consequences and that it implies bad things.

The average sex ratio of males to females at birth is about 105 male / 100 female. However males tend to have more health problems and by the age of about 1 year the ratio is about even.

This trend is true from conception also. At conception it's about 125 males/ 100 females. By 12 weeks it's diminished to 107.4 males / 100 females.

So radiation inducing a slight increase in the male sex ratio may mean that the male fetuses are on average healthier and more are surviving to birth.

Without studying the sex ratio of conceptions vs radiation it's not clear whether the sex shift is due to detrimental or positive effects. Nor whether the health of the children is impaired or improved.

There are a number of case studies indicating that low level radiation can actually reduced cancer and birth defect rates.

By ie5x on 5/30/2011 5:45:33 AM , Rating: 2
It is believed that nuclear radiation causes men to "father more sons while mothers give birth to more girls."

Quite a mind-bender for me, help someone!!?

By loganonics on 5/29/11, Rating: -1
"If you look at the last five years, if you look at what major innovations have occurred in computing technology, every single one of them came from AMD. Not a single innovation came from Intel." -- AMD CEO Hector Ruiz in 2007

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