Pollutants Linked to Smaller Fetal Size.


Pregnant women exposed to persistent organic pollutants, or POPs, have slightly smaller fetuses than those who have not been exposed to these chemicals, according to an analysis of ultrasound scans by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and other institutions. The researchers also found that the women in their study had lower levels of POPs than women in the 2003-04 U.S. Health and Nutrition Survey, the most-recent comprehensive study of these compounds in U.S. pregnant women.

The latest findings suggest that the chemicals, which no longer are produced in the U.S. but persist in the environment, may have lasting health effects even at low levels.

Persistent organic pollutants are chemicals once used in agriculture, disease control, manufacturing, and industrial processes. They include the pesticide DDT and dioxin, a by-product of herbicide production and paper bleaching. POPs are slow to break down, and may persist in water and air and be passed through the food chain. Their health effects vary, but some compounds have been linked to reproductive disorders and a higher...

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