Eight-year-old Ayami Suzuki is tested for possible nuclear radiation at an evacuation centre in Fukushima, northern Japan.

Hundreds of pregnant women are fleeing Japan’s east coast and capital Tokyo over fears that radiation from the Fukushima nuclear plant will harm their unborn babies.

Hospitals in the Osaka region, 450 miles from the crippled power station which is spewing radiation into the air, have been inundated with requests from mothers-to-be seeking a safe place to give birth.

More than 150 women from to wns near Fukushima and further along the coast have checked in to Osaka hospitals to give birth.

At least 58 women have fled Tokyo following the discovery of high levels of radioactive iodine in the city’s water supply.

So many are arriving in Osaka, hospital bosses fear they might not have enough staff to cope. Officials are making preparations to tend the women in public buildings that will be turned into temporary maternity wards.

One of the first pregnant women to flee the region was 31-year-old New Zealander Jayne Nakata, who lives with her Japanese husband just 30 miles from Fukushima.

After driving 600 miles to stay with her husband’s family, she said: “I don’t have any plans to return home until I am certain it is safe for my child.”