What You Should Know About BIRTH DEFECTS
Plain Truth Magazine
June 1969
Volume: Vol XXXIV, No.6
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What You Should Know About BIRTH DEFECTS
William F Dankenbring & Dexter H Faulkner  

Birth defects are a growing, heartrending problem! Yet birth defects need not be! It is time we examined the practical precautions that make for normal, healthy children.

   I'M SORRY "I've got bad news for you," the cautious doctor told the new parents. "Your new son, as he grows up, will suffer from mental retardation."
   What more heartrending, tragic news could a new father or mother have brought to them?

A Growing Tragedy

   How many thousands of parents have heard "Your son is born blind... or deaf... or crippled... or mentally retarded. There is nothing medical science can do. I'm sorry."
   Every year in the United States, these or similar tragic words resound in the ears of parents of about 250,000 children who are born with birth defects. These children can't see, or can't hear, or are physically crippled in one way or another. Or they are mentally retarded.
   Said Dr. Kenneth A. Berkaw, chief of pediatrics at the Harriman Jones Medical Clinic of Long Beach: "One out of every 14 babies in the United States is presently born defective."
   Why? Is it natural to suffer from a birth defect?
   Birth defects directly affect one family in ten in the United States! Every year half a million babies are killed outright by congenital defects before they are born. A quarter million survive to be born with significant defects. And of these, 60,000 children and adults die annually from birth deformities!
   The only plague striking more Americans yearly is heart disease! Birth deformities are the second greatest destroyer of life in the United States!
   Every two minutes, a baby is born with a serious defect in the United States or 700 every day!
   Why? What are the chances, if you are a prospective parent, of YOUR baby being defective? What can you do to PREVENT defects? You can lessen the odds ! There are important steps you can and SHOULD take to prepare for healthy children.
   But first, notice the staggering, overwhelming facts.

Staggering Statistics

   You don't often hear much about birth defects. They are a silent, often hidden plague stalking thousands of families yearly. No one likes to talk about them. They are too personal, too heartrending, too well, you might almost say embarrassing!
   Authorities estimate that there are in the United States 1,375,000 children under six who are victims of birth defects or congenital deformities. More children are hospitalized for birth defects than for all infectious diseases combined ! Born seriously handicapped, these children spend six million days a year in hospitals, at a cost of over $180 million.
   More than 300,000 babies are born premature every year they have two to four times as many serious birth defects as full-term infants. Premature birth is connected with 44 percent of all infant deaths!
   Investigations of more than 21,000 births in New York City, Hawaii, and England, indicate that at least 7 percent of the live-born have structural or functional defects, fewer than half of them evident at birth.
   Other specialized studies indicate this figure may be too conservative. One study reported 11 percent musculoskeletal defects alone; another found an incidence nearer to 14 percent.

"The Eleven Million"

   It is reliably estimated that 11,000,000 Americans have one or more serious

Birth Facts

   10% of all births are either dead, damaged, or defective.
   One out of every 16 (7%) has one or more major birth defects.
   A single birth defective child could cost a family more than $500,000 during a life span. Many defects around 18% are hidden and create problems later in adult life.
congenital defects. Here is a rundown of the major ones:
3,000,000 mentally deficient
   1,000,000 congenitally crippled
   500,000 blind or nearly blind
   750,000 deaf or nearly deaf
   350,000 with congenital heart defects
   more than 100,000 with speech defects
   These eleven million are walking around today, fortunate to be alive! Another 4 million diabetics are often (though falsely} included among those suffering from congenital defects.
   What CAUSES birth defects? Why are so many children being born severely handicapped blind, deaf, retarded, disabled?
   More than one thousand types of defects have been catalogued, ranging from those we have mentioned to clubfoot, cleft lip, defects of the heart and circulatory system, birthmarks, extra fingers and toes, hydrocephaly (water on the brain), mongolism, chemical defects, and many, many others.
   According to Dr. James F. Glenn, one in every 1,000 newborn babies has an "inter-sex" problem. That is, the appearance of the external sex organs differs from the chromosomal, genetic, or hormonal sex makeup of the person.

The Tragic Toll

   If you are a prospective parent, what would You give to make sure that your children will be NORMAL?
   The words of scientists are not promising. At least, according to the words of Dr. Harvey Bender, associate professor of biology at Notre Dame, mankind is "horsing around" with life in a way that could cause almost EVERYBODY to be born with at least one or two serious defects in a few more generations!
   Astounding? No!
   Dr. Bender warned, "In the next century or so EVERYBODY could be expected to have one or more of these traits to pass on to his descendants."
   Think of it a whole world filled with the crippled, the halt, the lame, and the blind!
   But, thank God, this dismal prospect will not come to pass! There is a way to HALT the trend. There is a way to safeguard children's health and the health of future generations!

The Major CAUSES

   In the United States, about one birth in 14 is deformed in some way. Thorough statistics for other nations are hard to obtain.
   However, a United Nations Report of a study of "congenital malformations" in 24 cities around the world conducted by the World Health Organization in 1966, found the following rates of malformed births in various selected hospitals:
Johannesburg, South Africa one in 44
   Panama City, Panama one in 48
   Belfast, North Ireland one in 52
   Melbourne, Australia one in 53
   Bogota, Colombia one in 60
   Sao Paulo, Brazil one in 62
   Mexico City, Mexico one in 68
   Madrid, Spain one in 75
   Zagreb, Yugoslavia one in 78
   Alexandria, Egypt one in 86
   Hong Kong one in 87
   Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia one in 95
   Santiago, Chile one in 106
   Capetown,South Africa one in 107
   Bombay, India one in 116
   The difference between U.S. figures and those of other nations is not as great as it at first seems. The World Health Organization report declares that following up a population of births shows that 1.5 to 2 times as many malformations may be discovered by 5 years of age.
   Instead of the average rate of congenital malformations in the 24 cities studied being one in about eighty, the real total might be one in about forty or fifty.
   Also, it must be noted that what other nations classify as "congenital malformations" does not necessarily include everything which are called "birth defects" in the United States. Generally speaking, a U. S. birth defect may be defined as a structural or metabolic disorder present at birth, whether genetically determined or a result of environmental influence during embryonic or fetal life. However, the international classification does not include all abnormal conditions of known congenital origin.
   This fact alone, therefore, may account for some of the gross differences between the rate of birth defects in the United States and "congenital malformations" in other areas around the world. The congenital malformations refer essentially to noticeable structural conditions present at birth.
   Scientific research has revealed several important causes for birth defects.
   The four major and direct causes of birth defects are: 1) DRUGS, including overdoses of synthetic vitamins, 2) VIRUSES, such as rubella which causes German measles, 3) RADIATION, such as X-ray treatment, and 4) faulty DIET.
   Of these four causes, at least THREE are directly due to MAN'S tampering with nature, and interfering with the natural processes of the human body!
   This fact is staggering but needs to be thoroughly UNDERSTOOD!
   Says an article in Science Teacher (January, 1968), "Drugs such as 'pep pills,' tranquilizers, sleeping pills, reducing pills, pain killers, LSD even aspirin and vitamins are under suspicion of having a disastrous effect on the fetus."
   Many pregnant women seemingly are oblivious to the dangers of DRUGS on their unborn babies. A Texas team of researchers carefully observed 240 pregnant women from their first visit to a doctor until delivery or termination of pregnancy. They discovered the majority were exposed to one or more possible defect-causing agents, most of them exposures to drugs.
   Of the babies born, nine had serious defects, and 17 had minor defects.
   Parents are warned in an article in Good Housekeeping: "Environmental causes of birth defects include virus infections, X-rays and drugs which may affect development of the embryo" (October, 1967).
   Numerous geneticists have come to believe that the multiple thousands of chemicals which have become part and parcel of our modern industrialized urban way of life, and part of our agriculture, may be causing damage to genes and to babies more damage than atomic radiation or nuclear fallout!
   Dr. Widukind Lenz, a West German geneticist on the staff of Hamburg University, said, "Formerly, many human biologists, taking a normal uterine environment for granted, used to attribute almost every malformation to heredity." Dr. Lenz asserted there is a need for a CHANGE IN THINKING, because "the chemical environment of man has greatly changed in recent decades due to the introduction of many chemicals."
   What effect do all these new chemicals have on mankind especially the chemicals in the air pollution, in our water and food supplies, pesticides, food additives, etc.? Said Dr. Lenz, "Almost nothing is known of the role of chemicals in the production of human malformations" (Today's Health Guide, AMA, pp. 481-482).
   However, growing evidence indicates many chemicals Do have a serious effect. Said an article in Today's Health, "Not long ago, it was comfortably assumed that the mother's placenta formed a barrier effective in protecting the fetus from the passage of drugs and other agents from the maternal circulation to the circulatory system of the unborn child. It is now recognized, however, than MANY substances CAN and DO filter through the placenta" (Aug. 1966, p. 62, "Tracking Down the Cause of Birth Defects").
   Among the suspect chemicals are drugs, narcotics, food additives, cosmetics, pesticides and many of the pollutants in our air and water.
   Scientists have compiled a LONG LIST of suspects potentially causative agents for birth defects. Among the list are such offenders as the artificial sweetener cyclamate, 8,000 tons of which are consumed yearly by Americans in soft drinks, candies, and other food items; drugs, such as LSD, amphetamines, or even many "medically approved" drugs; fungicides and pesticides; or even caffeine.
   Geneticists believe these chemicals flooding our environment may cause either breaks or mutations in the hereditary fabric of life the genes and chromosomes.
   Highlighting the new concern, Dr. Marvin Legator, chief of the FDA's cell biology branch, declared, "We know the dangers of radiation and worry about overexposure, but many drugs do the same kind of damage, and yet with drugs we have a void of information."
   Warned Dr. Virginia Apgar, director of research for the National Foundation March of Dimes, "I don't wish to sound like an alarmist, but the number of new drugs is increasing today at a rate unimaginable a generation ago." She added, "Respected researchers believe that a number of these drugs might cause birth defects. The list of these suspect drugs is long" (Wall Street Journal, Mar. 6, 1968).
   Another problem concerns drugs used to numb the labor pains of millions of mothers. Said Professor Arnold Beckett, head of the Department of Pharmacy at Chelsea College of Technology in London, infants are being "slugged" at birth with a higher concentration of narcotics than you would dream of giving a child of ten or twelve. He revealed that tests showed newborn babies had more of the pain-killing drug pethidine than the mothers for whom it was intended. Breathing difficulties resulted in some babies. Dangerous side effects can be measured only with each passing year.

There Is No Safe Drug

   A Harvard biochemist declared that any drug a pregnant woman takes will, in some way, affect her baby, often within seconds. Said Dr. C. A. Villee, "The drugs may differ in how long it takes them to affect the unborn child. But they all get through sooner or later, mostly sooner."
   He warned, "Women often take drugs before they realize they are pregnant, and early pregnancy is most dangerous in the sense that the fetus is most vulnerable then." He added that most malformations of the child have their origin in the first three months of pregnancy (Los Angeles Times, Feb. 1, 1968).
   Doctors know that the concept of an absolutely safe drug is a myth but a myth too many people seem to believe in!
   Even drugs tested on animals and which appeared "safe" can be DEADLY to unborn babies! An example would be the drug thalidomide which did not cause malformation of fetuses of experimental animals. But it certainly affected humans!
   A survey at Jessop Hospital for Women revealed that doctors who treat expectant mothers with drugs of the cortisone family may run a GRAVE RISK of killing the babies. Previously this was not considered a serious threat.
   Animal experiments have uncovered the fact that even such an "innocent" drug as aspirin may, in certain instances, be dangerous. Among the drugs doctors are taking a suspicious look at are the salicylates (found in aspirin), insulin, penicillin, streptomycin, adrenaline and various hormonal compounds!
   Said Dr. Virginia Apgar, an authority on birth defects, "There are approximately a DOZEN DRUGS SUSPECTED of contributing to abnormalities in the newborn and they include certain tranquilizers and common household headache remedies" (New York Times, Dec. 4, 1967).
   Vividly pointing up the tragedy which can occur from drugs taken by pregnant women is the fact that babies of women who have had LSD, who have smoked marijuana, taken heroin or other drugs sometimes are born HOOKED ON DRUGS. The condition of the infants, called "neonatal addiction," in many ways is similar to adult drug addiction.
   Doctors have also found evidence that LSD causes chromosome breakdowns in the fetuses of pregnant women. One doctor found four highly abnormal fetuses conceived by LSD users. The babies had serious brain and skull deficiencies.
   Dr. Cecil B. Jacobson, a George Washington University geneticist, and his associates studied 75 female LSD users. He found moderate to severe flaws in the chromosomes of at least 50 percent.
   Studying the fetuses of these women, they found 22 normal births, 35 abortions, 14 of which were intact enough for study. Of the 14, four had "exencephaly," a deadly brain and skull defect, which, in the past, usually shows up in less than one half of one percent of babies.
   Drugs are risky business!

Danger of Radiation

   Another cause of congenital deformities is exposure to radiation, such as X-ray dosage.
   Dr. Karl Z. Morgan, one of the pioneers in radiation research, warned that studies in animals have proved X-ray exposure of the fetus can produce birth defects such as crippling, impaired vision and mental retardation. Extreme doses can be FATAL!
   He cited studies indicating the number of deaths from leukemia and other cancers is around 40 percent higher among children whose mothers had diagnostic X-ray treatments when they were pregnant.
   Another researcher, H. Bentley Glass, a geneticist for Johns Hopkins University, reports that among the harmful mutations caused by radiations are mongoloid idiocy and sexual mal-development.
   "At present one cannot say," declared this geneticist, "how many mongoloid idiots and sexual aberrant types have been produced by radiation." Any amount of ionizing radiation, he warned, increases the risk of harmful mutations.

Other Serious Causes

   Viruses, such as the rubella virus which causes German measles, have been proved to be undeniably dangerous to unborn babies.
   Some cases of birth defects seem to have been traced to polio vaccines given to expectant mothers. Several doctors have warned women of childbearing age not to be vaccinated against smallpox while they are pregnant because maternal vaccination can kill the unborn child. This advice was given by three doctors at Queen's College, University of St. Andrew's in Dundee, Scotland.
   Now add to these causes the MAN INDUCED defects at childbirth. For instance, among the serious causes of mental retardation is physical injury to the brain. More than 126,000 children born each year in the United States will never rise to an intellectual level higher than that of a 12-year-old. Why?
   Officials of many training centers for the retarded acknowledge that IMPATIENT DOCTORS and a TOO CASUAL ATTITUDE among expectant mothers accounts for fully 95 percent of mental deficiency. These are the doctors who rush for the forceps to hasten the delivery of babies.
   Said Superintendent Tom Hoeflok of the Chrisholme Society, "It is well established that 95 percent of mental retardation is the result of birth injuries or antenatal accident or neglect."

Importance of Nutrition

   Proper nutrition is the single most important factor in preventing birth defects! Improper diet can jeopardize the health of unborn children.
   Too many women are simply too casual in their attitudes toward childbirth and pregnancy. Proper diet is VITAL to an expectant mother if she wants to prevent birth deformities in her children! Dr. Marjorie Nelson at the University of California has shown in the laboratory that a temporary deficiency of folic acid during early pregnancy, for example, can cause birth abnormalities in young animals.
   Women should PLAN for pregnancy at least six months in advance, both physically and psychologically. The well-being of the offspring depends largely upon the health and mental attitude of the parents.
   Says Dr. Coda Martin, "The scientific evidence is overwhelming that inadequate nutrition before and during pregnancy is one of the three principal causes of abnormalities in infants, the others being genetic defects and prenatal injuries. Conversely, the same evidence indicates that there is a strong relationship between good parental nutrition and healthy offspring" (A Matter of Life, p. 36).
   Good nutrition before and during pregnancy gives the baby a sound launching pad, as it were gets him or her off to a STRONG START in life! Unfortunately, American surveys have shown that most women enter pregnancy with nutritional deficiencies. Dr. Robert W. Hillman of the State University of New York has estimated that perhaps three fourths of the teen-age female population may be as much as TWO-THIRDS deficient in thiamin, riboflavin, calcium, iron or other essential factors. This is serious because HALF of the marriages in the United States involve brides under 20.
   The British Medical Journal, commenting on the fact that certain birth defects were seasonal, declared that "the most obvious explanation" was that seasonal nutritional deficiencies were responsible.
   Writes Dr. Martin, "An increasing amount of experimental evidence indicates that many fetal, or congenital, defects may result from dietary deficiencies in the mother during pregnancy, rather than from heredity. There is also evidence that FULL NUTRITION during pregnancy can modify the effects of a genetic defect, and it now appears that heredity and environment work as close partners in determining the presence and degree of fetal malformations.
   "With the incidence of congenital deformities of all types physical, mental or chemical in the United States now 2.5 percent of all live births, or 250,000 each year, no thinking parents can afford to ignore such evidence" (ibid., p. 47).
   Even mental retardation is associated with poor parental nutrition. A British authority on mental disease, Dr. Julius Steinfeld, flatly declared that schizophrenia originates in underfeeding during the first few weeks of life in the uterus!
   Some doctors suspect that many of the degenerative diseases such as heart ailments may originate in constitutional inadequacies at birth!
   A study at Harvard's School of Public Health showed that 95 percent of the deliveries of babies of women with good-to-excellent nutrition were without complications; among women with poor-to-very-poor diets, the results were almost the exact opposite (ibid., p. 49).

Love in the Home

   Another very interesting factor in having healthy babies is the love and harmony in the home. Emotional harmony and peace in the home (and therefore in the mother) may very definitely be important in the child's developing nervous system. Emotional stress in pregnant women disturbs the chemical and hormonal balance in the body. This imbalance may be transmitted to the fetus where it can interfere with its utilization of essential nutrients, causing the child to have a faulty nervous system. On the other hand, a home environment of love and harmony, where the mother's body chemistry remains normal, leads toward having a normal, stable, emotionally balanced baby.
   If you are planning children, be CAREFUL to obtain a diet adequate in all nutritional aspects. Too many parents to-be neglect to include enough properly prepared vegetables and fruits, fresh whole milk, or foods rich in complete proteins and other nutrients. The health you affect will be MORE than your own. Your offspring's health will be directly affected, and the health of future generations as well!
   Maintain a happy, tranquil, peaceful, BALANCED HOME LIFE.
   All of these are important factors to bear in mind when considering having a child.
   Another consideration for expectant mothers to keep in mind is the danger in high altitudes of a lack of oxygen. A Denver physician has warned women to stay below the altitude of 10,000 feet during the final three months of pregnancy, lest skeletal deformities, lack of teeth and hair, brain impairment or even death result for the child.

The Only Solution

   If You are interested in doing your BEST to have a healthy, vigorous, alert and NORMAL CHILD, then please read our free literature, The Seven Laws of Radiant Health. This reprint article shows what You can do to help insure that YOUR children will be normal and healthy!
   When men forsake the vitally important laws regulating our health, when they tamper with diet, indulge in drugs, imbibe useless chemicals and dangerous pesticides, they reap the PENALTY!
   The only true solution to the modern curse of birth defects is to begin obeying the laws which God ordained for our health, well-being, and abundant good! When we break those laws, they snap back on us and break us and our children, and our children's children!

The Curse of the Womb

   You may not believe it, but the Creator God said to our forefathers, centuries ago, that if our peoples would obey Him, we would be healthy and prosperous. "Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body and the fruit of thy ground" (Deut. 28:4).
   But, if we turned from the laws that would keep us happy and healthy, God said: "But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to Do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these CURSES shall come upon thee, and overtake thee: Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field. Cursed shall be thy basket and thy store. CURSED SHALL BE THE FRUIT OF THY BODY, and the fruit of thy land, the increase of thy kind [cattle], and the flocks of thy sheep. Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and cursed shalt thou be when thou goest out" (Deut. 28:15-19).
   These are plain words, spoken centuries ago. Have they come to pass? Absolutely!
   If you begin to live by the laws God set in motion for our own good, then your children will stand a FAR BETTER CHANCE of being normal, healthy, vigorous and alert!
   The lives of your children, and their children depend on YOUR decision! What are you going to do about it?

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Plain Truth MagazineJune 1969Vol XXXIV, No.6