Birth outcomes after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster: A long-term retrospective study

Claire Leppold*, Shuhei Nomura, Toyoaki Sawano, Akihiko Ozaki, Masaharu Tsubokura, Sarah Hill, Yukio Kanazawa, Hiroshi Anbe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Changes in population birth outcomes, including increases in low birthweight or preterm births, have been documented after natural and manmade disasters. However, information is limited following the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Disaster. In this study, we assessed whether there were long-term changes in birth outcomes post-disaster, compared to pre-disaster data, and whether residential area and food purchasing patterns, as proxy measurements of evacuation and radiation-related anxiety, were associated with post-disaster birth outcomes. Maternal and perinatal data were retrospectively collected for all live singleton births at a public hospital, located 23 km from the power plant, from 2008 to 2015. Proportions of low birthweight (<2500 g at birth) and preterm births (<37 weeks gestation at birth) were compared pre- and post-disaster, and regression models were conducted to assess for associations between these outcomes and evacuation and food avoidance. A total of 1101 live singleton births were included. There were no increased proportions of low birthweight or preterm births in any year after the disaster (merged post-disaster risk ratio of low birthweight birth: 0.98, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.64–1.51; and preterm birth: 0.68, 95% CI: 0.38–1.21). No significant associations between birth outcomes and residential area or food purchasing patterns were identified, after adjustment for covariates. In conclusion, no changes in birth outcomes were found in this institution-based investigation after the Fukushima disaster. Further research is needed on the pathways that may exacerbate or reduce disaster effects on maternal and perinatal health.
Original languageEnglish
Article number542
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2017


  • Birthweight
  • Disasters
  • Fukushima
  • Maternal and perinatal health
  • Public health


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