Birth Defects May Be Tied to Pesticide Levels

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 6, 2009 2:52 PM CDT
Birth Defects May Be Tied to Pesticide Levels
Surgeons correct a birth defect on a toddler.   (AP Photo)

Babies conceived between April and July—the period when surface-water concentrations of pesticides are at their highest—run an increased risk of having a birth defect, Reuters reports. “Our study didn't prove a cause and effect link,” the lead researcher said, but “the fact that birth defects and pesticides in surface water peak during the same four months makes us suspect that the two are related.”

“If our suspicions are right and pesticides are contributing to birth defect risk,” he continued, “we can reverse or modify the factors that are causing these lifelong and often very serious medical problems.” Birth defects like cleft lip and spina bifida affect around 3% of newborns in the US. While certain risk factors, like smoking during pregnancy, have been identified, scientists continue to search for other environmental causes. (More pesticide stories.)

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