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Vital Signs

Birth defects on the rise in China

  • Story Highlights
  • Birth defect rate nearly doubled in past decade in Beijing, state media says
  • Increase put down to better diagnostics and monitoring
  • Pollution and more older women having babies also seen as factors
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(CNN) -- The number of birth defects in China are on the rise and the rate has nearly doubled in the past decade in Beijing and several provinces, a state-run newspaper reported Tuesday.

The increase is mainly due to improved diagnostic techniques and monitoring capability, as well as women waiting until they are older to have children, China Daily reported, citing the Beijing municipal health bureau.

Environmental pollution could also be a factor, the newspaper said, quoting Caijing magazine.

The rate of birth defects in Beijing last year was 170 per 10,000 births, nearly twice the rate in 1997, when it was 90 birth defects per 10,000 births, China Daily reported, using figures from the health bureau.

The most common birth defects in Beijing's Shunyi district are congenital heart disease, excessive fingers or toes, cleft lip or palate, and neural tube defects, a regional reproductive health officer told China Daily.

A rise in birth defects was also seen in the provinces of Zhejiang, Hunan, Jiangxi, and Guangdong, China Daily reported, citing Caijing magazine.

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