Developmental biology

Food additives cut rate of birth defect

The governments food fortification programme has led to a 40% decline in spina bifida, a birth defect linked to folic acid deficiency, new research by South African scientists shows. The study is important as it highlights how a relatively cheap intervention has had a major effect on public health.

Report: 8M with birth defects each year

WASHINGTON - About 8 million children worldwide are born every year with serious birth defects, many of them dying before age 5 in a toll largely hidden from view, the March of Dimes says. Most birth defects occur in poor countries, where babies can languish with problems easily fixed or even prevented in wealthier nations, according to research released Monday by the organization. But the researchers said some innovative programs in Iran and Chile show that effective preventions don't have to be costly.

Cloning can bring cures for disease

In spite of misgivings from religious leaders who said it brought into question the sanctity of human life, Britain's House of Lords on Monday night gave the green light for research using cloned human stem cells.