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Shields L. M.; Wiese, W. H.; Skipper, B. J.; Charley, B.; Banally, L.
Health Physics: November 1992
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The role of environmental radiation in the etiology of birth defects, stillbirths, and other adverse outcomes of pregnancy was evaluated for 13,329 Navajos born at the Public Health Service/Indian Health Service Hospital in the Shiprock, NM, uranium mining area (1964–1981). More than 320 kinds of defective congenital conditions were abstracted from hospital records. Using a nested case-control design, families of 266 pairs of index and control births were interviewed. The only statistically significant association between uranium operations and unfavorable birth outcome was identified with the mother living near tailings or mine dumps. Among the fathers who worked in the mines, those of the index cases had histories of more years of work exposure but not necessarily greater gonadal dosage of radiation. Also, birth defects increased significantly when either parent worked in the Shiprock electronics assembly plant. Overall, the associations between adverse pregnancy outcome and exposure to radiation were weak and must be interpreted with caution with respect to implying a biogenetic basis.

©1992Health Physics Society