Scientists have found that the ubiquitous presence of chemicals known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs) could soon lead to half of all newborn babies being born with at least one birth defect. POPs include different pesticides, industrial chemicals, and compounds released from burning fossil fuels. A new study links these chemicals to neural tube defects, the first of its kind to examine the effects of such environmental factors on fetal development.
â€œThis is a serious concern,â€ said Dr. Marvin Eastman from the Tobias environmental research centre in New York City. â€œAccording to our research, in less than two decades the exponential rate of increase of persistent organic pollutants around the world will soon prevent almost half of newborns worldwide from developing normally and with at least one birth defect.â€
Persistent organic pollutants have been found to travel extremely far distances from their original point of release, though their semi-volatile and insoluble characteristics disallow for them to travel directly through the environment. Instead, POPs must attach to particulate matter, and oftentimes through the food supply. This ultimately leads to POPs traveling all over the world and contaminating the global food supply. In fact, POPs can travel to locations where they have never been used, including remote areas as far as Antarctica.
In the study, researchers observed 80 cases of fetuses or newborns with neural tube defects as well as 50 healthy controls from rural countries within the Shanxi Province in the Peopleâ€™s Republic of China. The research team chose this province due to the fact that it has the highest Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH) emissions in the country, a potent atmospheric pollutant. These pollutants are produced mainly from mining and burning coal in the area. The Shanxi Province also has the highest rates of neural tube defects in China, most likely a result of these pollutants. The rate of defect is a staggering 14 per 1,000 births.
What the scientists found in the placenta tissue of pregnant women added further evidence to their theory.
At birth, the scientists found several types of persistent organic pollutants in the placenta tissue, in addition to 10 types of PAHs, multiple types of organochloride pesticides, and 2 types of the pesticide DDT and a number of DTT metabolites.
Many environmental pollutants, despite being banned many years ago, are still affecting newborn children in developing and developed nations. As the usage of pesticides and genetically-enhanced weed killer accelerates, even more pollutants are unleashed on pregnant women and subsequently their developing fetuses. According to the authors of the study, these pollutants will lead to 50% of all future newborns being born with a defect unless something is done to control the pervasive nature of these harmful pollutants.
They are already working on it.
Quote:Fetal gene screening comes to market - Non-invasive procedure could make prenatal testing easier, but it comes with ethical problems.
Until last week, scrutinizing a fetus's DNA for indications of genetic abnormalities meant tapping into the mother's womb with a needle. Now there's a test that can do it using a small sample of the mother's blood. MaterniT21, a Down's syndrome test that Sequenom of San Diego, California, launched in major centres across the United States on 17 October, is the first of several such tests expected on the market in the next year. It signals the arrival of a long-anticipated era of non-invasive prenatal genetic screening, with its attendant benefits and ethical complications http://www.nature.com/news/2011/111025/f...8440a.html
Another Culprit for damaging our health bisphenol A (BPA)
Quote:Gender-bending chemical that 'makes girls as young as three aggressive and hyperactive'
By Sophie Borland Daily Mail
A common chemical used in products ranging from baby bottles to CD cases could be causing girls as young as three to become hyperactive and aggressive, researchers have claimed.
A study by leading U.S. scientists has found that those exposed to high levels of bisphenol A (BPA) in the womb are more likely to suffer from behavioural problems.
BPA, which is used to harden plastics, can be found in the lining of tins and bottles and the ends of knives and forks. It is known as the gender-bending chemical, as previous studies have shown it can interfere with the way hormones are processed.
Some scientists think that even relatively low doses can interfere with our behaviour, bodily functions and fertility. While some research has suggested that BPA is perfectly safe, other experiments have linked it to breast cancer, liver damage, obesity and diabetes.
Campaigners have called for a Europe-wide ban, and say the most recent findings are â€˜yet another nail in the coffinâ€™ for BPA.daily mail
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