2018 Volume 67 Issue 1 Pages 59-70
Objectives: The aims of this study are (1) to review the Pregnancy and Birth Survey section of the Fukushima Health Management Survey (FHMS); (2) to clarify the proportion of anxieties felt by mothers from Fukushima that relate to radiation exposure as a stigma in society, and also to identify associated factors; and (3) to explore the attitudes of future mothers from the region in regard to childbirth by developing a new scale, known as the “Fukushima Future Parents Attitude Measure (FPAM).
Methods: (1) We reviewed 11 studies that reported using the FHMS Pregnancy and Birth Survey to determine the health of infants and mothers. (2) To analyze levels of anxiety, we used the data from a 2011 baseline survey and its 2015 follow-up, ascertaining the mothers' subjective health, depressive symptoms, maternal confidence, and anxieties regarding radiation exposure. (3) Finally, to achieve our third aim, we distributed a questionnaire to all 310 students at a women's college in Fukushima Prefecture.
Results: (1) Analyses of FHMS data showed that the Fukushima nuclear accident did not affect pregnancy outcomes, but did affect maternal mental health. (2) An examination of the surveys of mothers' mental health revealed that 974 mothers (41.2%) reported having feelings of anxiety associated with the stigma of radiation exposure. In particular, maternal age, depressive symptoms, receiving antenatal care as scheduled, and post-quake medical history were significantly associated with a higher proportion of anxieties related to this stigma. (3) Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses were conducted, allowing us to identify two Factors: “caring for a baby” (three items) and “giving birth to a baby” (three items). Both factors correlated with the students' quality of life, self-efficacy, and self-esteem scales, and the factor, “giving birth to a baby,” also correlated with radiation-related risk perception.
Conclusions: The FHMS highlighted the importance of providing mental health support to the mothers of young children. It should be particularly noted that over 40 percent of mothers in the follow-up study in 2015 had anxieties about being stigmatized for their radioactive exposure. In addition, young women's attitudes toward future pregnancy, as measured by the FPAM, are associated with their radiation risk perception.