Drinking Water Contamination And Birth Defects In Iowa

CDC, Mar 29, 2007

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) is the lead public health agency responsible for implementing the health-related provisions of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA).

Surveillance of Reproductive Outcomes and Environmental Exposures—ATSDR has supported the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) surveillance of reproductive outcomes and environmental exposures in Iowa since August 1986. Iowa began an active birth defects registry in January 1987 covering all 99 of its counties; record abstraction was undertaken retrospectively for all counties from 1983 through 1986 so that complete data exist from 1983. Between 1983 and 1990, more than 18,000 children with reportable birth defects were registered.

As a part of this surveillance effort, a special project focused on ecologic studies of public drinking water contamination and birth defects in 18 small towns in southern Iowa. These drinking water supplies were contaminated with several herbicides including atrazine, cyanazine, metolachlor, and 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D). The project also evaluated the prevalence of birth defects in counties and municipalities with and without NPL sites, and the prevalence of neural tube defects near the La Bounty dump site (arsenic exposure). The prevalence of intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) (using California norms), cardiac defects, urogenital defects, and limb reductions was elevated in the study towns. Generally, findings from both studies were inconclusive because of low statistical power and poor exposure information. However, counties with NPL sites containing heavy metals (e.g., arsenic, lead, and mercury) had a higher prevalence of clubfoot without central nervous system defects and a higher prevalence of cleft lip.

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