Study shows perchlorate-contaminated water may severely affect babies' thyroid health

According to new research, babies who consumed water that was contaminated by perchlorate - a rocket fuel chemical found in inland drinking water supplies - had a 50 percent chance of developing thyroid problems. The Press-Enterprise reports that scientists from the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment studied blood samples from the heels of 497,458 newborns in 1998, from a California disease-screening program.

The study, which was published in the latest edition of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, shows that babies born in areas where tap water met the current state standard still had thyroid issues.

The news provider reports that the finding is important because the thyroid produces the hormones that fetuses and babies need for proper nerve and brain development. Other studies show that small declines in the production of thyroid hormone may negatively affect intelligence, according to Craig Steinmaus, lead author of the study.



The American Cancer Society estimates that 44,670 new thyroid cancer cases - 33,930 in women and 10,740 in men - will be diagnosed nationwide this year. Nearly two-thirds of the cases occur in people between the ages of 20 and 55. In addition, the chance of being diagnosed with thyroid cancer has doubled since 1990, in part because of better detection.

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