Umbilical Discord

An estimated 8,000 babies are born with neural defects every year in Rajasthan. Most of them die within a few months of birth. They are lucky. Because those who survive suffer from grave deformities. S G Kabra, physician at the Indian Institute of Health Management Research in Jaipur, links the malady to pesticide use. Pesticides are known to negate the action of folic acid, vital for brain development, he says. Pesticide residues in food can inhibit the intake of folic acid leading to birth of babies with congenital defects. The risk is higher if conceived at the time the kharif (summer) and rabi (winter) crops reach the market, a time when pesticide residue is very high, says Kabra's study. In November 1999, Kabra brought his findings to Down To Earth's notice. Though his findings have not been peer reviewed, he raises a doubt: pesticides abuse in India may be leading to the birth of deformed babies

Published: Friday 30 June 2000

Umbilical Discord

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