The world's eyes are on Japan. As we watch, hope and pray for the country's recovery from last week's massive earthquake and tsunami and this week's potential for nuclear disaster — all of which has the potential to affect millions. The aftermath could be most devastating to Japanese children, particularly those that have yet to be born.
According to experts, the radiation that has leaked from Japan's nuclear facilities has the potential to cause various kinds of cancers, such as thyroid cancer, bone cancer and leukemia in young children and unborn babies. If and when more radiation leaks, it will only serve to increase these risks.
Radioactive material is carried in the air where it can be directly inhaled into the lungs or combined with rain to affect the soil, water supply, aquatic ecosystems and crops. This material is dangerous because it can cause dramatic changes in ecosystems. In the human body, radioactive material can cause mutations in DNA, which then lead to the development of cancer. Children and babies — particularly unborn babies — are especially vulnerable to the effects of radiation as their young bodies are beginning to grow and develop.
Cow's milk is particularly susceptible to the effects of radiation because grazing cows pick up radioactive materials that are easily concentrated in their milk. And who drinks the most milk? You guessed it — kids and babies.
Exposure to radiation has also been linked to miscarriage and infertility in both men and women.