Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Birth Defects

House of Lords written question – answered on 13th May 2002.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Alton of Liverpool Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 10 April (WA 99), why, in the light of the reported increase of birth defects attributable to the use of recreational drugs by young mothers and an increase in oestrogen-like substances in the diet, data are not collected centrally; and whether they have any plans to revise this policy.

Photo of Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health)

The Office for National Statistics collects information on live born babies and stillbirths with congenital anomalies through the National Congenital Anomaly System (NCAS). Reporting to NCAS is voluntary and notifications are sent by regions where there are local registers or by National Health Service trusts. NCAS does not collect information on drug usage in pregnancy. The Department of Health will consider evidence which suggests a causal factor for birth defects.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is aware of concerns regarding consumption of plant-based foods containing naturally occurring estrogen-like chemicals, known as phytoestrogens. A study published in 2000 suggested the incidence of hypospadias (an abnormality of the male genitals) was higher in babies of mothers who follow a vegetarian diet. The Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT) reviewed the study but concluded there was insufficient evidence to support this hypothesis.

The FSA is currently funding a large programme of research to investigate the pubic health implications of phytoestrogens. Additionally, at the request of the FSA, an expert group of the COT is reviewing the health implications of phytoestrogens. The group aims to publish a report of their findings in the autumn this year (2002).

Does this answer the above question?

Yes0 people think so

No0 people think not

Would you like to ask a question like this yourself? Use our Freedom of Information site.