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Birth Defects

November 28, 2012
Re "A toxic battleground," Nov. 25 Residents of Kettleman City, Calif., claim that toxic waste dumped into a nearby landfill is responsible for illnesses, birth defects and even some children's deaths. Consider India, where crowding in parts of the country forces some citizens to live in waste dumps. Consider the lights of Las Vegas, other lights and store TVs, which are on all the time as if it were a divine right. Consider the ocean being treated as a sewer. Consider the problem of world population growth: thousands of years to reach 1 billion people (1810)
September 26, 2012 | By Sergei L. Loiko, Los Angeles Times
MOSCOW - The five caskets positioned next to one another in a common grave Wednesday showed the tragic results of another apparent drunk-driving accident in Russia. The teenage victims, residents of a Moscow institution for mentally handicapped youths, were killed along with two guardians when a car smashed into them as they waited for a bus. The car's driver, officials said, was intoxicated at the time and had a history of traffic violations, including an arrest for driving under the influence in 2010.
May 5, 2012 | By Karen Kaplan, Los Angeles Times/For the Booster Shots blog
For couples seeking to overcome infertility by turning to assisted reproductive technology - which can be invasive and expensive - an increased risk of birth defects probably won't stand in their way. Still, a study released Saturday by the New England Journal of Medicine may give some prospective parents a little something to think about as they mull their options for fertility treatment. The study is based on data from more than 300,000 births in the state of South Australia (population 1.6 million)
February 21, 2012 | By Mitchell Landsberg, Los Angeles Times
Rick Santorum is winning the hearts of conservative voters with uncompromising social views that, he says, are drawn from the same well as his fiscal and environmental policies: a reading of America's founding documents that stresses their Judeo-Christian underpinnings. In friendly settings around the country, in hotel ballrooms and public school auditoriums, Santorum has framed the 2012 election as one for the very salvation of the country and its culture. "Ladies and gentlemen, this is about foundational things," he told a Republican gathering in Phoenix on Tuesday, one day before a debate with the remaining GOP candidates in Mesa, Ariz.
August 25, 2011 | By Louis Sahagun, Los Angeles Times
A toxic waste dump near a San Joaquin Valley community plagued by birth defects has agreed to pay $400,000 in fines and spend $600,000 on laboratory upgrades needed to properly manage hazardous materials at the facility, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Wednesday. The penalties were part of a consent decree that capped an 18-month investigation by the EPA and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control into the Chemical Waste Management landfill about 3 1/2 miles southwest of Kettleman City, a community of 1,500 mostly low-income Latino farmworkers.
July 12, 2011 | By Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of a wide range of birth defects, including skull defects, missing or deformed limbs, clubfoot, cleft palate, protrusion of the gastrointestinal system through the skin and heart problems, according to the first major study to examine the incidence of such risks. Smoking during pregnancy is already well known for increasing the risk of miscarriage, low birth weight and premature birth, said Dr. Allan Hackshaw of the University College London Cancer Institute, who led the study, published in the journal Human Reproduction Update.
May 17, 2011 | By Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
Older epilepsy drugs such as phenobarbital, phenytoin, valproate and carbamazepine can double or triple the risk of birth defects if a pregnant woman ingests them during the first trimester of pregnancy. But going without them can lead to seizures that also endanger the fetus, so managing a pregnancy in an epileptic woman has generally involved walking a fine line between controlling seizures and reducing developmental problems. But a new generation of epilepsy drugs are thought to reduce the risk of birth defects, and a major new study from Denmark confirms that speculation.
March 4, 2011 | By Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times
The anti-epilepsy drug topiramate triples the risk of cleft palate and other birth defects of the oral cavity when taken during the first trimester of pregnancy compared with other anti-epilepsy drugs, the Food and Drug Administration warned Friday. In addition to being used to control epileptic seizures, the drug, sold under the brand name Topamax, is FDA-approved for preventing migraine headaches and is used off-label for some other purposes, including appetite control. For those uses, the risk is much higher.
March 2, 2011 | By Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times
Consuming opioid pain relievers such as codeine, oxycodone or hydrocodone just before pregnancy or early in pregnancy increases the risk of certain birth defects, especially congenital heart defects, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Wednesday. The warning extends to such prescription painkillers as Vicodin, OxyContin and Tylenol-3, as well as a variety of generic versions of the drugs. Although there is an increased risk of some major types of birth defects from exposure to the drugs, "the absolute risk for any individual woman is relatively modest," said epidemiologist Cheryl S. Broussard of the CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, who led a study of the drugs that will be published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology . The findings come from the ongoing CDC-sponsored National Birth Defects Prevention Study , the largest study of birth defects ever performed in the United States, covering pregnant women in 10 states, including California.
November 23, 2010 | By Louis Sahagun, Los Angeles Times
State health investigators have ruled out a toxic waste dump as the cause of severe birth defects including heart problems and facial deformities in the impoverished Central California farming community of Kettleman City, according to a draft report released Monday. Beyond narrowing their list of potential causes, state Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Public Health investigators were still unsure why 11 babies were born with physical deformities in Kettleman City between September 2007 and March 2010.
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