sábado, 11 de abril de 2009

We are made of what we eat- Pesticides and Pregnancy

This week I was sent the following study: 

"Conception Timing Associated With Birth Defects

Deborah Brauser

Medscape Medical News 2009. © 2009 Medscape

April 2, 2009 — Elevated concentrations of agrichemicals in surface water from April to July coincide with a higher risk for birth defects in the United States when maternal last menstrual periods (LMPs) are between those same months, according to the results of an ecological study reported in the April issue of Acta Paediatrica.

Results showed a significant association between the months of increased risk for a birth defect and increased levels of agrichemicals in surface water.

Mean concentrations of agrichemicals were found to be highest in April to July. Birth defect rates for April to July LMPs were significantly higher than birth defect rates for other LMP months (1621/100,000 vs 1573/100,000 live births; P < .01).

In addition, 11 of 22 birth defect subcategories were also significantly higher when maternal LMPs were between April and July than in other months of the year. These were spina bifida, circulatory/respiratory anomalies, tracheo-esophogeal defects, gastrointestinal defects, urogenital defects, cleft lip, adactyly, clubfoot, musculoskeletal anomalies, Down's syndrome, and other birth defects."

These results are sad, enfuriating and  I could continue with a long list of adjectives, but I'd rather give more information. My heart goes out to the families of babies who, despite their best intention, their utmost love and care of the pregnancy recieve the news or the body of a baby with a major malformation, or minor, or any, period. It is not a question that of course this child will be loved just the same and that families will learn and adjust, but it is cruel that this would occur because the agricultural and food industry has deemed that this practice is necesary and we as family have to completely change our lives to hold and care for a child with a disability or malformation. Because here are some facts:

  • Within one field, the aplication of pesticides will reduce but not eliminate pests. Some pests will die immediately and some who did not recieve a full on or are resistant to the chemicals will survive. 
  • Those who survive will breed and pass on genetic material to their young in order to resist chemical pesticides.
  • Continued spraying increases population resistance to a certain pesticide and over time a whole population will evolve to be resistant to a certain chemical. 
  • More than 500 species of insects and mites, 150 viruses and 300 weeds now resist chemicals.
  • In 1948 US farmers used 50 million pounds of pesticides and lost 7% of crops to pests
  • In 2000 US farmers used almost a Billion pounds of pesticides and lost 13% of crops to pests
(Source: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, Harper Perrenial 2007)
I took statistics in graduate school, and even if I had stopped at first grade addition- I'm sorry but these numbers DO NOT WORK OUT.  This is terrifying to me- I live in a planet, and more specifically in a region where pesticide use is widespread and unregulated and as a practicing midwife in southern Mexico I can say that in spring we always get a couple of an-embrionic pregnancies (these are pregnancies where the bag develops without an embryo) and that in the fall we always attend the birth of one or two babies with some sort of malformation. Am I seeing the effects of this study in my own practice? Probably. 

Pesticide companies don't really care about the birth and childhood experiences of indigenous women in Southern Mexico, but they do care about your purchasing power. If we, as a people stop buying food that comes from anywhere except for our local organic farmers, we are supporting the widespread use of pesticides. Therefore we are participating in babies developing with an open spine. 

I know that anyone reading this does not want to participate in fetal malformations. The choice is yours, inform yourself. If you are pregnant or planning on being pregnant inform yourself and advocate for your new baby's health. If you are part of a community, protect your young from malformations and help them develop as strong perfect beings that they are. 

We are lucky that we live in a world now where every day we can access more information and ask more questions. Ask your locals produce store where they get the food, support your local organic market, grow your own food. And demand that your government ensure clean, pesticide free water. 

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