The effect of prenatal exposure to radiation on birth outcomes: exploiting a natural experiment in Taiwan

Meng Wen Tsou, Jin Tan Liu, James K. Hammitt, Chyi Horng Lu, Szu Yu Zoe Kao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

We estimate the effect of prenatal exposure to radiation on infant health. By exploiting the 1983 Taiwanese radiation-contaminated buildings accident as a natural experiment, we compare birth outcomes between siblings and cousins exposed to different radiation levels. Given the 1983 accident was unanticipated and exposed cohorts were unaware of the risk until 1992, our design isolates the effect of radiation exposure during pregnancy from other effects. We provide the first evidence that prenatal exposure to a continuous low-level dose of radiation significantly reduces gestational length and increases the probabilities of prematurity and low birth weight.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-403
Number of pages25
JournalJapanese Economic Review
Volume71
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2020

Keywords

  • Birth outcomes
  • Birthweight
  • Ionizing radiation
  • Prenatal exposure
  • Radiation contaminated buildings

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