ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
New Insights Show Ginseng Fights Inflammation
Pain-Relieving Powers of Acupuncture Unclear
Insight on Herbals Eludes Doctors, Patients Alike
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Beware of Dog Bites
BONES & JOINTS
Drinking Cuts Rheumatoid Arthritis Risk
Frankincense Provides Relief for Osteoarthritis
B Cells Can Act Alone in Autoimmune Diseases
CANCER
Steady Weight Gain Boosts Late-Life Breast Cancer Risk
Smoking Ups Risk of Second Breast Cancer
Well Water Might Raise Bladder Cancer Risk
CAREGIVING
Birthmark or Blood Vessel Problem?
3 Steps Might Help Stop MRSA's Spread
Hispanic Children More Likely to Have Hearing Loss
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Migraines in Pregnancy Boost Vascular Risks
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
Exercise Extends Life of Kidney Patients
COSMETIC
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
DENTAL, ORAL
Periodontal Disease Impacts Whole Health
Mom's Vitamin D Levels Affect Baby's Dental Health
Good Oral Hygiene May Protect Against Heart Infections
DIABETES
Fish Twice a Week Cuts Diabetics' Kidney Risks
Saliva Test Could Monitor Type 2 Diabetes
Lifestyle Factors Tied to Older Adults' Diabetes Risk
DIET, NUTRITION
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
10 Beginner Tips for Fast Weight Loss, the Low-Carb Way!
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
FDA Faulted for Stance on Chemical in Plastics
Most Mt. Everest Deaths Occur Near Summit During Descent
Air Pollution Exposure May Slow Fetal Growth
EYE CARE, VISION
Antioxidant-Rich Diet May Protect Against Eye Disease
Omega-3 Foods May Lower Eye Disease Risk
Stem Cells Repair Damaged Corneas in Mice
FITNESS
Mom and Baby Alike May Benefit From Exercise
Simple Exercise Precautions To Help Keep Baby Boomers Fit
Vigorous Treadmill Workout Curbs Appetite Hormones
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
GENERAL HEALTH
Biomarkers May Help Measure Rate of Decline in Dementia
Can a Bad Boss Make You Sick?
Deployment Takes Toll on Army Wives
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Coffee Is Generally Heart-Friendly
Shedding Light on Why Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Help the Heart
Fewer Heart Attacks After England Goes Smoke-Free
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Obese Children More Likely to Suffer Lower Body Injuries
Standard IQ Test May Underestimate People With Autism
MEN'S HEALTH
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
MENTAL HEALTH
Vitamin C Protects Some Elderly Men From Bone Loss
Positive Brain Changes Seen After Body-Mind Meditation
Cinnamon Breaks Up Brain Plaques, May Hold Key to Fighting Alzheimer’s
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
Expectant Mom's Exercise Keeps Newborn's Birth Weight Down
SENIORS
Seniors Who Volunteer May Live Longer
Seniors Cope With Sleep Loss Better Than Young Adults
Rapid Weight Loss in Seniors Signals Higher Dementia Risk
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Women Who Run May Benefit From Extra Folic Acid
Vitamin D Deficiency Puts 40% of U.S. Infants and Toddlers At Risk
Calcium Helps Ward Off Colon Cancer
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Study Links Pesticides to Birth Defects

TUESDAY, March 31 (HealthDay News) -- Pesticides may increase the risk of birth defects, say researchers who found that the highest rates of birth defects in U.S. babies occur among those conceived in the spring and summer, the same time that there are increased levels of pesticides in surface water.

Researchers analyzed all 30.1 million births in the United States between 1996 and 2002. They found a strong association between higher rates of birth defects among women whose last menstrual period was in April, May, June or July and elevated levels of nitrates, atrazine and other pesticides in surface water during those same months.

The data showed a statistically significant correlation between the last menstrual period and higher rates of birth defects for half of 22 categories of birth defects, including spina bifida, cleft lip, clubfoot and Down's syndrome.

"Elevated concentrations of pesticides and other agrochemicals in surface water during April through July coincided with significantly higher risk of birth defects in live births conceived by women whose last menstrual period began in the same months," study first author Dr. Paul Winchester, professor of clinical pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine, said in a school news release. "While our study didn't prove a cause and effect link, the fact that birth defects and pesticides in surface water peak during the same four months makes us suspect that the two are related," he said.

It's long been believed that these chemicals pose a threat to developing embryos, but this is the first study to make the connection between birth defects and elevated levels of pesticides at the time of conception, the authors said. The study is in the April issue of the journal Acta Paediatrica.

"Birth defects, which affect about three out of 100 newborns in the U.S., are one of the leading causes of infant death. What we are most excited about is that if our suspicions are right, and pesticides are contributing to birth defect risk, we can reverse or modify the factors that are causing these lifelong and often very serious medical problems," Winchester said.

Known risk factors for birth defects include alcohol use, smoking, diabetes, and advanced age among pregnant women. But even mothers who didn't have these risk factors had higher overall birth defect rates for babies conceived from April to July, the study found.

"These observations by Dr. Winchester are extremely important, as they raise the question for the first time regarding the potential adverse effect of these commonly used chemicals on pregnancy outcome -- the health and well-being of our children," Dr. James Lemons, a professor of pediatrics at the IU School of Medicine, said in the news release.

More information

The March of Dimes has more about birth defects.



-- Robert Preidt



SOURCE: Indiana University School of Medicine, news release, March 30, 2009

Last Updated: March 31, 2009

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