Blastopathies and microcephaly in a Chornobyl impacted region of Ukraine

Congenit Anom (Kyoto). 2014 Aug;54(3):125-49. doi: 10.1111/cga.12051.


This population-based descriptive epidemiology study demonstrates that rates of conjoined twins, teratomas, neural tube defects, microcephaly, and microphthalmia in the Rivne province of Ukraine are among the highest in Europe. The province is 200 km distant from the Chornobyl site and its northern half, a region known as Polissia, is significantly polluted by ionizing radiation. The rates of neural tube defects, microcephaly and microphthalmia in Polissia are statistically significantly higher than in the rest of the province. A survey of at-birth head size showed that values were statistically smaller in males and females born in one Polissia county than among neonates born in the capital city. These observations provide clues for confirmatory and cause-effect prospective investigations. The strength of this study stems from a reliance on international standards prevalent in Europe and a decade-long population-based surveillance of congenital malformations in two distinct large populations. The limitations of this study, as those of other descriptive epidemiology investigations, is that identified cause-effect associations require further assessment by specific prospective investigations designed to address specific teratogenic factors.

Keywords: Chornobyl; blastopathies; congenital malformations; ionizing radiation; sex ratio.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Radiation-Induced / epidemiology*
  • Abnormalities, Radiation-Induced / etiology
  • Chernobyl Nuclear Accident*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microcephaly / epidemiology*
  • Microcephaly / etiology
  • Microphthalmos / epidemiology*
  • Microphthalmos / etiology
  • Neural Tube Defects / epidemiology*
  • Neural Tube Defects / etiology
  • Prevalence
  • Teratoma / epidemiology
  • Teratoma / etiology
  • Twins, Conjoined
  • Ukraine / epidemiology