Congenital anomalies, prematurity, and low birth weight rates in relation to nuclear power plant proximity1)

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The objective of this study was to determine whether maternal residential proximity to a nuclear reactor is associated with prevalence of certain birth defects.

Study design:

The New York State Vital Statistics and Congenital Malformations Registry data (1992–2001) were analyzed for five Hudson Valley counties in a 20-mile radius from the Indian Point nuclear reactor (Buchanan, NY, USA). Four zones of 5-mile increments were used to categorize proximity to the reactor. Data included congenital anomalies, low birth weight, and prematurity.


Over the 10-year period, 702 malformations in 666 children were identified from a birth population of 328,124, yielding a regional rate of 2.1 major malformations per 1000 births. The prevalence of defects, low birth weight, and prematurity were not related to proximity to the nuclear power plant.


These data did not substantiate an association between maternal proximity to the reactor and certain birth defects and provide baseline data for comparison in the event of a nuclear accident.

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