ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Traditional Chinese Therapy May Help Ease Eczema
Indigo Ointment Benefits Psoriasis Patients
Massage Fosters Healing in Bereaved Relatives
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Active Young Women Need Calcium, Vitamin D
Put Your Best Foot Forward Next Year
Body Fat, Muscle Distribution Linked to RA Disability
CANCER
Gene Studies Reveal Cancer's Secrets
Vitamin D Good for Breast Cancer Patients
Ginger Can Ease Nausea From Chemotherapy Treatments
CAREGIVING
Caring for Aging Loved Ones Can Be a Catch-22
With Age Comes Greater Risk of Hypothermia
Study Links Pesticides to Birth Defects
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
Firefighters Have Narrower-Than-Normal Arteries, Study Finds
Exercise Extends Life of Kidney Patients
COSMETIC
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
DENTAL, ORAL
Periodontal Disease Impacts Whole Health
Dental Implants Need More Work Than Root Canals
Acid Drinks Blamed for Increase in Tooth Erosion
DIABETES
Fructose-Sweetened Drinks Up Metabolic Syndrome Risk
Americans Consuming More Sugary Beverages
Boosting Vitamin D Can Do a Heart Good
DIET, NUTRITION
The Best Diet? That Depends on You
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
Marinades Help Keep Grilled Meat Safe
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Golf Course Insecticides Pose Little Danger to Players
1976 Italian Dioxin Release Damaged Babies' Thyroids
Chemicals in Carpets, Non-Stick Pans Tied to Thyroid Disease
EYE CARE, VISION
Blood Sugar Control Helps Diabetics Preserve Sight
Thyroid Problems Boost Glaucoma Risk
Magnetic Pulses to Brain Improve Lazy Eye in Adults
FITNESS
Resistance Training Boosts Mobility in Knee Arthritis Patients
Research Confirms How Valuable A Healthy Lifestyle Can Be
Fall Cleanup Is a Prime Time for Accidents
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
GENERAL HEALTH
Tune Up Your Health With Music
When Healing Becomes a Commodity
Simple Holistic Approach to Fight the Common Cold
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Relaxation Tapes or Mozart Lower Blood Pressure
Walk Long, Slow and Often to Help the Heart
Boosting Vitamin D Can Do a Heart Good
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Folic Acid Reduces Infant Heart Defects
Gene Variation Found in Boys With Delinquent Peers
Protect Your Kids From Swine Flu While at Camp
MEN'S HEALTH
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
MENTAL HEALTH
Worries About Weight Are Tied to Teen Suicide Tries
Teen Internet Addicts More Likely to Self-Harm: Study
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Calcium Supplements Cut Blood Lead Levels During Pregnancy
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
SENIORS
Many Cancer Survivors Don't Adopt Healthy Lifestyle
Tai Chi May Help Ward Off Knee Pain in Seniors
Martial Arts Training May Save Seniors' Hips
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
Smoking Ups Risk of Second Breast Cancer
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
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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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