Friday, September 22, 2006
Babies In Womb Exposed To 'Gender-Bending' Chemicals
By EMILY COOK
Last updated at 22:58pm on 10th September 2006
Courtesy of the Daily Mail, London
Babies are being exposed to "gender-bending" chemical pesticides
before they are even born, disturbing new evidence has showed.
Tests on blood taken from the placentas of pregnant women revealed up
to fifteen different types of pesticide, the research found.
Worryingly, the chemicals were found in every single one of the 308
The findings will fuel concern about the chemicals, known as hormone
disruptors or EDCs - endocrine-disrupting chemicals.
High levels of exposure have been linked to reproductive
abnormalities - so-called gender-bending - because they upset the
hormonal development of the embryo.
The effects are already being seen in nature where some species of
fish and animals with deformed sex organs have been found.
Scientists blame agricultural pesticides and other hazardous
chemicals such as those found in flame retardants which have leaked
into the environment.
Last year a similar report by WWF-UK and Greenpeace found that babies
are being exposed to a whole array of chemicals at the most
vulnerable point in their development.
Tests on the blood of 30 newborn babies found the presence of eight
different groups of chemicals, ranging from cleaning products to
chemicals used to make plastics and non-stick waterproof coatings.
A study led by scientists at the University of Rochester in New York
also found that common chemicals found in thousands of household
products such as soaps and make-up can harm the development of unborn
The results reinforce calls for pregnant women to be especially
careful about their diet and for the reduction of chemicals in food
The latest findings were made by the Department of Radiology and
Physical Medicine at the University of Granada in Spain.
Analysis of the placentas revealed the "presence of seventeen
endocrine disruptive organochlorine pesticides" - the so-called
Some patients' placentas contained 15 of the 17 pesticides tested
Maria Jose Lopez Espinosa, who headed the research, feared that the
chemicals could cause health problems for children who suffered
exposure in the womb.
She said: "The results are alarming: 100 per cent of these pregnant
women had at least one pesticide in their placenta but the average
rate amounts to eight different kinds of chemical substances."
She warned, "We do not really know the consequences of exposure to
pesticides in children but we can predict that they may have serious
effects since this placenta exposure occurs at key moments on the
The modern, chemical-laden environment can be especially harmful to
pregnant women. During the gestation period, contaminants which
accumulate in fatty tissues, access the unborn child via the blood
supply and the placenta.
The Spanish research was carried out at San Cecilio University
Hospital among 308 women who had given birth between 2000 and 2002.
Tests were performed on 668 samples.
The study also found a higher presence of pesticides in older mothers
and those who had a higher Body Mass Index.
Miss Espinosa believed that a healthy lifestyle with plenty of
exercise, good food and no smoking would help combat the effect
of "inadvertent exposure" to the chemicals.
She added, "It is possible to control pesticide ingestion by means of
a proper diet, which should be healthy and balanced, through
consumption of food whose chemical content is low.
"Moreover, daily exercise and the avoidance of tobacco, which could
also be a source of inadvertent exposure, are very important habits
which help to control the presence of pesticides in our bodies".