Seventeen years after the nuclear power accident at Chernobyl, most of the radio-contamination among the population of Southern Belarus is caused by incorporation of long-lived radioisotopes. The varying levels of 137Cs observed among children in this area are explained by the source of their food, especially by the consumption of contaminated milk produced privately. We stratified children from rural areas of Belarus (caesium [137Cs] contamination >5 Ci/km(2)) by their 137Cs loads into three distinct groups (group 1, <5 Bq/kg body weight [BW]; group 2, 38.4 +/- 2.4 Bq/kg BW; group 3, 122 +/- 18.5 Bq/kg BW). We determined the relationship between the 137Cs load and the children's main source of food and recorded their cardiovascular symptoms. Cardiovascular symptoms, ECG alterations, and arterial hypertension were significantly more frequent in children with high 137Cs burden than in children with very low 137Cs burden. Children with moderate and high 137Cs loads (groups 2 and 3) received apple pectin, a food additive, for 16 days. Apple pectin significantly decreased 137Cs loads in these groups (39% and 28%, respectively). ECG alterations improved, while cardiovascular symptoms and hypertension did not change in any group.