Increased risk of birth defects after PCE exposure

Sep 23, 2009

Exposure to tetrachloroethylene (also known as perchlorethylene, PCE) may cause congenital birth defects. A study of expectant women exposed to PCE in drinking water, published in BioMed Central's open access journal Environmental Health, found an increased risk of oral clefts and neural tube defects in their children.

Ann Aschengrau, from Boston University School of Public Health, USA, worked with a team of researchers to study the prevalence of birth defects in the of women from 8 towns in Cape Cod who had been exposed to PCE during the period 1969-1983. She said, "The results suggest that the risk of certain congenital anomalies is increased among the offspring of women who were exposed to PCE-contaminated around the time of conception".

From the late 1960s until 1980, hundreds of miles of pipe that had been lined with a vinyl coating containing PCE were laid in the area. It wasn't until 1980 that officials realized the danger, creating what the researchers describe as "A vast natural experiment reminiscent of John Snow's cholera investigation in 1854 London." Boston University investigators found that there were 61 children with congenital anomalies among the 1,658 children with some prenatal PCE exposure and 95 children with congenital anomalies among 2,999 children with no prenatal PCE exposure. Prenatal exposure was associated with increases in the risk of oral clefts and neural tube defects (particularly anencephaly).

Speaking about these findings, Aschengrau said, "Because PCE remains a commonly used solvent and frequent contaminant of ground and drinking water supplies, it is important to understand its impact on the developing fetus."

More information: Prenatal exposure to tetrachloroethylene-contaminated drinking water and the risk of congenital anomalies: a retrospective cohort study; Ann Aschengrau, Janice M Weinberg, Patricia A Janulewicz, Lisa G Gallagher, Michael R Winter, Veronica M Vieira, Thomas F Webster and David M Ozonoff; Environmental Health (in press); www.ehjournal.net/

Source: BioMed Central (news : web)

Explore further: Singapore launches universal health insurance

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Is tap water safe for expectant mothers?

Jun 02, 2008

Drinking water disinfected by chlorine while pregnant may increase the risk of having children with heart problems, cleft palate or major brain defects, according to a study published today in BioMed Central's open access ...

Your baby's brain on drugs (and alcohol and tobacco)

Apr 07, 2008

Although behavioral studies clearly indicate that exposure to drugs, alcohol and tobacco in utero is bad for a baby’s developing brain, specific anatomic brain effects have been hard to tease out in humans. Often users ...

Prenatal drug exposure linked to sleep problems in children

Jun 10, 2008

In the first study across time into late childhood of the effects of prenatal drug exposure on sleep, prenatal drug exposure is associated with greater sleep problems in children. In addition, nicotine has a unique effect, ...

Prenatal arsenic exposure detected in newborns

Nov 23, 2007

MIT researchers have found that the children of mothers whose water supplies were contaminated with arsenic during their pregnancies harbored gene expression changes that may lead to cancer and other diseases later in life. ...

Recommended for you

Unique EarlyBird study set for historic third phase

1 hour ago

A unique study which has followed 300 young people from age five since 2000, has received backing for a third phase which will see it become the first study of its kind in the world to track the same group ...

Singapore launches universal health insurance

3 hours ago

Singapore's parliament has enacted a universal health insurance scheme with nearly $3.0 billion in subsidies to help the elderly and lower-income people, as it responds to demands for better social safety nets.

Some doctors won't see patients with anti-vaccine views

15 hours ago

With California gripped by a measles outbreak, Dr. Charles Goodman posted a clear notice in his waiting room and on Facebook: His practice will no longer see children whose parents won't get them vaccinated.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.