(NaturalNews) This year's annual meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) will include research showing a link between the agricultural chemical atrazine and the birth defect gastroschisis. Gastroschisis has been on the rise over the past several decades, having increased up to four times the level from 30 years ago, and scientists believe it is due to exposure to atrazine and other agricultural pesticides.
Gastroschisis is a birth defect in which a baby's intestines, and sometimes other organs as well, develop partially outside of the body rather than on the inside. Special care must be given to mothers of unborn children with this condition which is often emotionally and financially taxing on families.
In the study, researchers from the University of Washington at Seattle evaluated all infants with the condition who were born between 1987 and 2006 and compared their birth records with a database illustrating the areas in which atrazine had been used. They found that cases of gastroschisis were most common in infants whose mothers lived less than 16 miles from areas where surface water was highly contaminated with atrazine. Women who had gave birth in the springtime between March and May when atrazine is used most often were found to be more likely to have a child with disease.
According to Dr. Sarah Waller, one of the study's authors, Washington state has a gastroschisis rate that is two times the national average. Particularly in the eastern part of the state where atrazine is more heavily used, data revealed that cases of the disease were significantly higher than in other areas, indicating a definitive link between the chemical and the disease.
Steve Goldsmith, spokesman for Syngenta, the company that manufactures atrazine, denied the claim that atrazine causes gastroschisis. He claims that the study is not credible and that "thousands of studies" verify that atrazine is completely safe.
However, a 2007 Indiana study published in the Journal of Pediatric Surgery also found a link between atrazine and birth defects. Researchers evaluated data compiled from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Indiana State Department of Health and found that areas with high contamination of atrazine also had significantly higher rates of gastroschisis and other birth defects.
Just last year, a study published in Acta Paediatrica found that atrazine increases the risk of nine different birth defects. Babies born to mothers whose last menstrual period was between April and July, the time when surface water levels of atrazine are highest, experienced the highest rate of birth defects.
Despite rhetoric from the industry defending the safety of atrazine and other toxic pesticides, these chemicals are responsible for inflicting serious harm, especially on unborn and young children.
Ethan Huff is a freelance writer and health enthusiast who loves exploring the vast world of natural foods and health, digging deep to get to the truth. He runs an online health publication of his own at http://wholesomeherald.blogspot.com.