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Lack of transgenerational effects of ionizing radiation exposure in cleanup workers and evacuees of the Chernobyl accident

Science. Volume 372, Issue 6543: p.725-729, 14 May 2021 10.1126/science.abg2365

Effects of radiation exposure from the Chernobyl nuclear accident remain a topic of interest. We investigated whether children born to parents employed as cleanup workers or exposed to occupational and environmental ionizing radiation post-accident were born with more germline de novo mutations (DNMs). Whole-genome sequencing of 130 children (born 1987-2002) and their parents did not reveal an increase in the rates, distributions, or types of DNMs versus previous studies. We find no elevation in total DNMs regardless of cumulative preconception gonadal paternal (mean=365mGy, range=0-4,080 mGy) or maternal (mean=19mGy, range=0-550 mGy) exposure to ionizing radiation and conclude over this exposure range, evidence is lacking for a substantial effect on germline DNMs in humans, suggesting minimal impact on health of subsequent generations.

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