September 25, 2009

Solvent linked to birth defect risk

U.S. researchers have linked exposure to tetrachloroethylene to birth defects.

The chemical, used commonly as a solvent, is also known as perchlorethylene or PCE, and is sometimes found as a contaminant in drinking water.

The study, published in Environmental Health, found an increased risk of oral clefts and neural tube defects in children whose mothers -- while pregnant -- lived in eight towns in the Cape Cod area of Massachusetts where water pipes lined with a vinyl coating containing PCE had been used from 1969 to 1983.

There were 61 children with congenital anomalies among the 1,658 children with some prenatal PCE exposure.

The results suggest that the risk of certain congenital anomalies is increased among the offspring of women who were exposed to PCE-contaminated drinking water around the time of conception, study researcher Ann Aschengrau of Boston University School of Public Health said in a statement.