Study: Serious birth defects linked to the agricultural chemical atrazine

Gastroschisis in 30-week fetus. Photograph of cesarean delivery shows bowel protruding through anterior abdominal wall defect.

(NaturalNews) Gastroschisis is a birth defect in which the intestines, and sometimes other organs, develop outside the fetal abdomen and poke out through an opening in the abdominal wall. Long considered a rare occurrence, gastroschisis has mysteriously been on the rise over the last three decades. In fact, the incidence of the defect has soared, increasing two to four times in the last 30 years. But why?

Researchers think they’ve found the answer. The culprit behind the suffering of babies born with this condition appears to be the agricultural chemical atrazine. That’s the conclusion of a study just presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) held in Chicago.

Researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle were alerted to a higher than normal number of cases in of the birth defect in babies born in eastern Washington. So they began investigating to see if the increased incidence was due to some kind of environmental exposure in that area.

“Our state has about two times the national average number of cases of gastroschisis,” Dr. Sarah Waller, one of the study’s authors, said in a statement to the media. “The life expectancy for fetuses with this diagnosis is better than 90 percent; however it requires delivery at a tertiary care center with immediate neonatal intervention which often separates families and can cause serious financial and emotional stress.”

The condition can lead to poor function of the bowel after delivery and potential long term feeding problems. Bottom line: babies with this birth defect must undergo the trauma of surgery right after birth. And while most survive, some babies with gastroschisis have significant damage to the bowel due to direct contact between the intestine and amniotic fluid or because the intestine was twisted. These infants may develop a condition known as “short gut” which can lead to stunted growth and a host of feeding and other problems.

For the new study, Dr. Waller and her research team went to work investigating all cases of live born infants with gastroschisis during the period between 1987 and 2006. They matched birth certificates with databases from the U.S. Geological Survey that revealed where agricultural spraying took place and what chemicals were used. It turns out the chemicals atrazine, nitrates, and 2, 4 dichlorophenoxyacetic acid were heavily sprayed in the area.

Of the 805 cases and 3,616 controls in the study, gastroschisis developed far more frequently among babies whose mothers lived less than 25 km from the site of high surface water that was specifically contaminated with one of the chemicals — atrazine. What’s more, the risk of gastroschisis was found to especially rise in babies of women who conceived in the spring, from March through May. Those are the months when use of the chemical is the most prevalent.

The problem with atrazine

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), atrazine is applied to crops (especially corn, sorghum, and sugarcane) before and after planting to control broadleaf and grassy weeds. It is used most heavily in the Midwest on agricultural crops but it is also applied to residential lawns, particularly in Florida and the Southeast.

Problems linked to atrazine have been in the news previously. Earlier research showed it causes sexual abnormalities in frogs and the chemical has also been linked to prostate cancer in workers at an atrazine manufacturing plant.

So why is it still widely used? Unfortunately, the EPA has done little to address the mounting evidence that atrazine is harmful to humans as well as animals. Last fall the agency announced it was going to start a new assessment of the chemical in 2010 that could take months to years to complete. In the meantime, tons of atrazine will continue to be sprayed on crops and lawns — and mothers and their unborn babies will continue to be exposed to this chemical now linked to a serious and potentially deadly birth defects.

For more information:………

Monday, February 22, 2010 by: S. L. Baker, features writer

Source: Natural News

5 thoughts on “Study: Serious birth defects linked to the agricultural chemical atrazine”

  1. My child was born with gastroschisis in 2003 in Boise, Idaho. He now has to deal with short bowel syndrome for the rest of his life. I always knew it was caused by pesticide/herbicide exposure. While attending Treasure Valley Community College in Ontario, Oregon, I took a crop and soil science class when I was pregnant, One day, I was in the very back of the campus greenhouse looking at my trial experiment (using peat versus cocoa on balsam) when another student, without warning, started spraying this pesticide all over everything, while laughing! By the time I was able to reach the door on the other end and get out, my eyes were watering and I was puking. I did my own research and came to find that area had a higher rise in babies born with birth defects. According to Beyond Pesticides, it is one of the biggerest users of fumigants as well. Tons of genetically modified sugar beets and corn growing in the desert prairie. Oh, there were also 22 farm workers, (probably illegal individuals being why the story remained very small and virtually unprinted) that walked onto an undry dusted onion field. They all had to be cleaned on the spot by EPA and remained having symptoms 6 months after their exposure to it.
    Why is somone not being held resposible for my boy, as well as other children suffering?
    Sally Stephens-Whitmire,
    mother and organic farmer

  2. milk recall marh 1982 hawaii island. i was born march same year. it is very possible, mom exposed during most of her pregnancy with me. the hepatchlor exposure during mom’s pregnany left me born with mal rotation of the intestines. i also have fibromyalgia, have had symptoms entire life but finanlly got dx last year., I actualy spent entire life told its physcology issue in my head, severe constipation and pain caused by boltled up stress. mom and dad split when i was in 5th grade. dad was strong marine, he didn’t think i needed to go to dr, he didn’t want his abussive drinking to come up at phycology office. his girl friend said i wanted attention and rarely spoke to me, so i sucked up all the pain and kept quiet. worked since i was 14, left home at 116 never to look back. married a physco man met online who took all my credit and money while working 3 jobs, killing myself, soo sick all day, all the times, he would curse/ abuse me if i complained so i just worked and paid the bills, sounds like highschool all over again, same pattern.horrible childhood can lead to horrible relationships if you don’t get help. not allot of contact with mom until 2009, 2010 when i left abussive husband and decided to go to doc to find out what the heck is going on. between 2000 and 2010 did not have insurance, wasn’t in the budget at all. so finanlly i got insurance jan 2010 up until the dx, even my sister said i needed anti-depresants. did not get dx until i was 28 and kaiser perminente dr listened after comming in for sharp pain, she found it. underwent surgery oct 2010. will never be normal, I still get stomach pains bad, debilitating sometimes. i will have ibs for the rest of my life and no luck with fibromyalgia, i am tired. the gov. took my life before i ever left the womb. I will be happy when god takes me to heaven. i am tired. suicide is not an option, i do not want to go to hell. i will stay strong and find what god’s mision. I am alive to spread the word regarding our toxic world

  3. why i am not surprized the military doc’s didn’t dx the problem sooner. mother took me to dr all the time to be told colic, hernia, ulcer, ibs, need mental health to address stress, then dad refused and threatened nobody from our family was allowed to talk to dr anymore, joyce is fine. so i was a straight a student, even on the days i was violent ill. could not do that great in sports, the sharp pains always started away qwick walking. trouble breathing, the gov. is allowing this to happen, it means if this people did, or our children die than that is one less person they have to pay social security in the end. one less person they have to provide school for. healthy people are a burden to gov, dead people are less expensive to manage. so they kill us slowly with all chemicals in food, air, plastics, water, health products, rx drugs, on and on and on the list just past the moon. is it possible hiv is actually caused by a chemical used in war? ok i will stop with the conspiracy theories. i think area 51 tests babies that are born with birth defects, they medicate them and watch to see what happens at a certain point they are lab rats. or children are dying at birth….. what do they do with the dea baby once it is taken out of the room, sometimes parents don’t have a choice….. if the child is an organ donor, it could end up in the hands of the government. could shaken baby syndrome actually be the result of toxic chemicals? chemical detox can cause seziours in infants. if you put baby in crib and wake up to it not breathing, the brain and body can show bruses the are results from seziurs. it’s easier to blam the parent then test for chemical exposure or say that chemicals in shots could cause problems

  4. at this time my childhood medical records from military doc are Missing in action…………………! big surprize. i will have trouble proving in court that i was seen several times and was sent home for colic, stress, or ibs. dole foods, and meadow gold dairy and dean foods are responsible for the contaminated products that caused me life to be filled with pain and suffering… if there are others out there, please email……. we can get a class action suite together and raise or voices………..i am trying to find attorney to represent me in this

  5. Published: April 22, 1982
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    HONOLULU, April 21— Hawaii, Hawaii’s largest milk distributor, today sought a restraining order against a state order that bars it from processing any milk produced on the island of Oahu because of pesticide contamination.

    The State Health Department issued the prohibition Tuesday and recalled Meadow Gold milk products.

    The contamination was disclosed last month.

    The State Health Director, Charles Clark, acted after the Food and Drug Administration banned Meadow Gold milk on planes and ships leaving Hawaii.

    The recall was the latest in a series that began March 18 when tests revealed unacceptable levels of heptachlor, a pesticide used to control ants in pineapple fields. Pineapple leaves are fed to dairy cattle after enough time has elapsed for the chemicals to dissipate, but apparently some leaves were fed to cows while still contaminated.
    The commercial milk supply on Oahu was contaminated by heptachlor epoxide for as long as 15 months during 1981-82 at levels possibly as high as 1.2 ug/g, fat basis. Following the contamination, several investigators attempted to evaluate potential adverse health outcomes, especially among infants and young children. However, results of the initial investigations are inconclusive due to lack of reliable measures of heptachlor exposure, use of non-random sampling techniques, and lack of definitive health outcomes attributable to heptachlor epoxide. The design of a current study to assess the body concentrations of heptachlor epoxide and related pesticides in Hawaii is presented. The study is designed (1) to relate these concentrations to prior exposure via the milk contamination, and (2) to assess the reliability of breast milk and serum pesticide concentrations as objective biological markers of body burden. No attempt is made to relate these data to health outcomes; instead, the findings may provide the foundation for future health studies or surveillance of environmental exposure to pesticides in Hawaii.
    so the second half of this is the abtract article. the gov did there test and it was inconclusive, they were not willing to print their findings. big shocker


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