“Environmental changes” in China contributed to a 70% rise in birth defects between 1996 and 2010, from 0.88% to 1.49%, according to China Radio International:
Congenital heart disease, hyperdactylism, cleft lip with or without cleft palate, congenital hydrocephalus, and neural tube defects account for 49.1 percent of the total defects, surveillance data from hospitals in 2010 revealed.
Qin Huaijin, a senior official from the MOH, said the rate’s rise in recent years was caused by various factors, including environmental changes and a reluctance to undergo premarital health check-ups.
Children born with birth defects and learning difficulties average 1.2 million out of the 20 million new born babies each year in China, said Bian Xuming, director of the maternity department of Peking Union Medical College Hospital.
The increase is a sharp contrast with the huge improvements in infant and maternal mortality noted by the article. A substantial drop in neonatal mortality was also recently reported by researchers at Peking University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.