"Living near farms that use the weed killer atrazine may up the risk of a rare birth defect, according to a study presented this past Friday at the annual meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine in Chicago.
About 1 in 5000 babies born in the U.S. each year suffers from gastroschisis, in which part of the intestines bulges through a separation in the belly, according to the March of Dimes. The rate of gastroschisis has risen 2- to 4-fold over the last three decades, according to Dr. Sarah Waller, of the University of Washington, Seattle, and colleagues.
Waller's team studied the potential link between the weed killer and the birth defect because, as they note in their conference abstract, "during the last 10 years, the highest percentage per population of gastroschisis was in Yakima County, in the eastern part of the state, where agriculture is the primary industry."
Overall, Washington state has about double the national average of gastroschisis cases - an average of 43 cases per year, Waller told Reuters Health."