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Chinese officials: Environmental degradation behind increase in birth defects
Detail: Chinese officials told state media that birth defects are increasing
at an alarming rate and that a major reason was degradation of the environment.
"The number of newborns with birth defects is constantly increasing in both urban and rural areas," Jiang Fan, vice minister of the National Population and Family Planning Commission, was quoted by the China Daily's weekend edition as saying in a recent conference.

Environmentalists say that the leading culprit is China's dependence on coal and that birth defects are highest in coal-producing regions such as Shanxi and Inner Mongolia. Although Jiang did not give out new figures at last month's conference, a study by the commission released in 2007 found that birth defects had increased nearly 40% from 2001 to 2006, coinciding with the country's explosive economic growth.
Date: February 3 2009