The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) has criticised the recent move of issuing birth certificates to children based on age determination tests done after conducting dental X-rays. The AERB is the regulator for medical diagnostic application. Its contention is that the practice does not reveal the correct age and also raises safety concerns.
Recently, a Hong Kong-based NGO allegedly conducted age determination tests on over 100 children, especially the orphans to help them get birth certificates. A Navi Mumbai dental college conducted the dental X rays.
In a statement, Mumbai-based AERB said the X-ray examinations result in a radiation exposure albeit small. It said such procedures must be done only as a diagnostic necessity and not used indiscriminately.
“AERB advises all medical/dental X-ray facilities, dentists/dental surgeons, as well as the general public to desist from using dental X-ray examination solely for the purpose of age determination or birth registration,” reads the statement.
The Atomic Energy (Radiation Protection) Rules, 2004, read with the mandatory Safety Code on Regulation of Nuclear and Radiation Facilities call for strict adherence to AERB regulations with regard to diagnostic radiation.
According to the Date of Birth Foundation, a Hong Kong-based NGO, about 10 million children go unregistered in India every year. Similarly, on a global scale, United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) statistics show that the birth of one in three children below the age of five years is not registered.
As per the NGO, children without birth records become vulnerable to age-related crimes including child trafficking, kidnapping and prostitution. The NGO claims that the accuracy of the age determination test is such that the precision could be off by 1.5 weeks in male children and 2.6 weeks in female children.
However, AERB cited medical research and rubbished the claim of accuracy of dental X-ray test for age determination.