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September 5, 1977

Genetic Damage From Diagnostic Radiation

JAMA. 1977;238(10):1023-1024. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03280110027006

To the Editor.—  Bross and Natarajan, using the data from the Tri-State Leukemia Survey and a mathematical model, argue that low doses of diagnostic radiation given during pregnancy result in severe genetic damage to a small (about 1%) proportion of fetuses. For those affected, this damage is later expressed as greatly increased risk of childhood leukemia (by 50-fold) and of a group of other childhood diseases called "indicator" diseases (by fivefold).The authors do not indicate the precision of their estimated parameters but present estimated numbers of irradiated children with and without leukemia and with and without indicator disease in three age ranges; these numbers agree well with the corresponding frequencies observed in the Tri-State Survey. The object of the exercise appears to be to circumvent the problems of demonstrating an exposure effect that may increase disease rates only slightly in the exposed population and of impressing on others, who