The Japanese government has stated that it will have medical experts check the thyroid of roughly 4,500 children at three different locations outside of Fukushima. This is being done to double-check and confirm that the earlier diagnoses of thyroid growths in 36% of Fukushima children are directly related to the March 2011 nuclear disaster. Officials say they will test children 18 year old or younger using similar ultrasonic thyroid examinations, and will continue through the end of March 2013.
Health officials say the exams will be conducted as far away as possible from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, in order to work against Japan’s lack of epidemiological data in connection with a nuclear accident. There are currently around 360,000 children in Fukushima Prefecture who go through regular medical exams. In the years after the nuclear accident in Chernobyl in 1986, the number of children with cancerous growths on their thyroid increased continuously.
The Fukushima Prefectural Government says that out of 38,114 children tested through the end of March this year, 13,646 have been found with irregular thyroid lumps. But most doctors say that it is too early to know without a doubt that the cause was nuclear radiation. Some health officials say it can sometimes take four or five years for the effects of radiation exposure to be fully present.