Atrazine-Defect Link? Doctor Sees 'Ominous Trends,' But No Proof

"Gastroschisis, a birth defect in which the intestines grow outside the body, is more common among babies conceived in the spring when the levels of the herbicide atrazine in water are highest, researchers from Indiana reported.

In Washington, women who live near water contaminated with atrazine are more likely to have a baby with gastroschisis, especially if they get pregnant in spring, a study found.

Atrazine, applied on corn crops in Wisconsin and much of the Midwest, is found in some drinking water and can be absorbed through the skin and lungs. Exposure to the chemical is the latest potential risk factor to emerge in the effort to unravel the mystery of gastroschisis, one of the most puzzling of birth defects.

Unlike most defects, gastroschisis ("gas-tro-SKI-sis") clearly is on the rise, said Russell Kirby, a birth defects statistics expert who tracks the condition."

David Wahlberg reports for the Wisconsin State Journal June 19, 2011.

Monday, June 20, 2011