Epidemiological and experimental evidence for radiation-induced health effects in the progeny after exposure in utero

Rafi Benotmane, Klaus Ruediger Trott

Research outputpeer-review


Purpose: It has been known for many decades that radiation exposure of the developing embryo or fetus may cause two fundamentally different types of severe health effects: on the one hand, radiation may interfere with the normal intrauterine development, on the other hand, radiation may induce leukemia and cancer which become manifest in childhood. A large amount of epidemiological and experimental data has recently been presented which might be used to improve our understanding of underlying mechanisms and setting radiation protection standards. Yet, ecological studies in the populations exposed to increased levels of radiation in regions contaminated by radioactivity released from reactor accidents (Chernobyl, Fukushima) do not provide solid evidence which would contribute to this aim. On the other hand, well designed experimental studies demonstrated the multifactorial mechanisms which lead to different health effects after radiation exposure in utero. Conclusion: There is no convincing evidence, neither from epidemiological nor experimental data of the existence of a dose threshold for developmental defects after radiation exposure in utero. This must be taken into account in the revision of rules and regulations of radiation protection in medicine.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Biology
StatePublished - Dec 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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