ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Know Your Asthma Triggers
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Indigo Ointment Benefits Psoriasis Patients
Eight Spiritual Universal Principles in the Art of Practice
Awareness of Alternative Therapies May Be Lacking
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Safe Toys for Dogs
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Vitamin K Doesn't Slow Bone Loss
Rheumatoid Arthritis a Threat to the Heart
Improved Hip Implants Can Last 20 Years
CANCER
Herb May Counter Liver Damage From Chemo
Papaya Could Be a Cancer Fighter
Tanning Beds Shown To Raise Cancer Risk, Study Says
CAREGIVING
Mild Flu Season Coming to a Close
Simpler Sleep Apnea Treatment Seems Effective, Affordable
TV Watching Doesn't Fast-Track Baby's Skills
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Years of Exposure to Traffic Pollution Raises Blood Pressure
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
COSMETIC
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
DENTAL, ORAL
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
Mom's Vitamin D Levels Affect Baby's Dental Health
Acupuncture May Ease Anxiety Over Dental Work
DIABETES
Red-Grape Compound May Improve Diabetes
Whole Grains Take a Bite Out of Type 2 Diabetes Risk
'Standard' Glucose Test May Be Wrong One for Obese Children
DIET, NUTRITION
Licorice May Block Absorption of Organ Transplant Drug
Herb Shows Potential for Rheumatoid Arthriti
6 Million U.S. Kids Lack Enough Vitamin D
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Global Warming Linked to Heightened Kidney Stone Risk
Pesticides Linked to Parkinson's
Gene Explains How High-Fructose Diets Lead to Insulin Resistance
EYE CARE, VISION
Stem Cells Repair Damaged Corneas in Mice
Eye Problems, Hearing Loss May Be Linked
Cases of Age-Related Farsightedness to Soar
FITNESS
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
Occupational Therapy Plus Exercise Benefits Osteoarthritis
Exercise Cuts Lung Cancer Risk in Ex-Smokers by 45%
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
GENERAL HEALTH
Health Gains From Lowered Smoking Rates in Jeopardy
15-Point Test Gauges Alzheimer's Risk
Afternoon Nap Might Make You Smarter
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
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
Obese People Seem to Do Better With Heart Disease
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
More Steps a Day Lead to Better Health
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Play Creatively as a Kid, Be a Healthier Adult
Eating Fish, Breast-Feeding Boost Infant Development
Exercise During Pregnancy Keeps Newborn Size Normal
MEN'S HEALTH
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
Countdown to Hair Loss
MENTAL HEALTH
The 3LS Wellness Program for Reversing Chronic Symptoms and Creating Lasting Health
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
Drink Away Dementia?
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
Music of Mozart Soothes the Preemie Baby
Expectant Mom's Exercise Keeps Newborn's Birth Weight Down
SENIORS
Daily dose of beet juice promotes brain health in older adults
Vitamin D May Help Keep Aging at Bay
Many Cancer Survivors Don't Adopt Healthy Lifestyle
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Vitamin D Deficiency Puts 40% of U.S. Infants and Toddlers At Risk
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
Natural Oils Help Lower Body Fat For Some
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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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