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Environmental toxins found in newborns' cord blood: report

Tests on the cord blood of a small group of newborns is raising fears Canadian children already carry environmental toxins in their bodies at birth.

A report by Environmental Defence suggests babies are exposed to chemicals in the womb because pollutants are so pervasive in the environment and products.

Some of the chemicals tested for are linked to serious health conditions such as cancer, and developmental and reproductive problems.

Tests in the cord blood of three anonymous newborns in the Toronto area and Hamilton turned up evidence of 137 chemicals.

Among them were flame retardants, PCBs, PFCs found in non-stick coatings, and organochlorine pesticides.

Maggie MacDonald of Environmental Defence says some of the chemicals have been banned for years, yet were present in cord blood.

“This is evidence that our babies — who are extremely vulnerable — are being burdened with a toxic chemical load before they are born,” said MacDonald, toxics program manager for the organization.

“Expectant mothers can’t protect themselves and their children from toxic chemicals that are pervasive in our environment. That’s why this should be a wake-up call that strong action from the government and industry is needed.”

Environmental Defence is urging Health Canada and industry to remove harmful chemicals from products.

Click here to view the report, Pre-Polluted: A Report on Toxic Substances in the Umbilical Cord Blood of Canadian Newborns.