China birth defects ‘soar due to pollution’

Birth defects in Chinese infants have soared nearly 40% since 2001, Reuters reported a government report as saying, as officials linked the rise to the country's worsening environmental crisis.
The rate of defects has risen from 104.9 per 10,000 births in 2001, to 145.5 in 2006, affecting nearly one in 10 families, China’s National Population and Family Planning Commission said in a report.
Shanxi province, China’s coal heartland, had the highest rate of defects, reports said.
"The incidence of birth defects is related to environmental pollution," the Beijing News quoted An Huanxiao, director of Shanxi’s provincial family planning agency, as saying.