Health and Medicine Question #920

Teresa G. Nelson, a 39 year old female from Alford asks on September 12, 2002,

My father was exposed to massive radiation exposure before he fathered two out of three children. His first born has no major medical problems. His second born child was in the hospital most of her first year and was given gammaglobulin shots. (I'm guessing) to keep her from having contunious infections as an infant. She also had a lot of upper respratory infections until she was sixteen and she was tested for allergies. She had many allergies and needed to take shots for them. As an adult she had reproductive problems and developed diabetes.She wants to know if her health conditions could be related to her fathers radiation exposure and what if any tests she can take to rule out or find and treat any other hidden diseases. The third born child had vision problems( as does the next generation of children).He also had a swolen spleen for most of his childhood. As an adult he has been diagnosed with Kidney Disease - some form of Glomerulonephritis. He has always weighed in on the light side. His questions are the same.

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The answer

Gary H. Kramer answered on October 9, 2002

The question is difficult to answer as there is no indication of how much dose was received or when it occurred compared to the births. Also "massive" can mean different things to different people. For example, a dose of 4.5 Sv would be expected to kill half of the exposed population. The current recommendations of the ICRP suggest that genetic effects can occur at the rate of 0.013 per Sv of dose received. Contrast this with the natural occurrence of genetic disorders affecting 7.29 percent of live births. So to determine the likelihood that the disorders were radiation induced more information would be required so that a "probablity of causation" could be evaluated.

Regrettably a genetic disorder does not carry with it the cause, so there's no definitive test to identify why these things happened.

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