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Seveso accident affects babies' thyroids

A leak at a Swiss-owned chemical factory near the northern Italian city of Milan three decades ago is having long-lasting effects on thyroid functions in babies.

This content was published on July 29, 2008 - 11:41

A study by a team of scientists in Italy and the United States says babies born to mothers living in the contaminated area of Seveso are still over six times more likely to have altered thyroid function than those born in a non-contaminated area.

The findings are based on medical checks between 1994 and 2005 on 1,772 babies from the contaminated area and 1,014 other babies, according to an article published in the medical journal PloS Medicine.

The authors also say further studies on the long-term progress of the children are needed to establish whether exposure to dioxins results in reduced growth and intellectual development.

More than 750 people were forced to leave their homes and nearly 200 cases of chloracne were confirmed in the wake of the incident at the Icmesa plant in 1976.

The factory was part of the company Givaudan which belonged to the Roche group at the time.

The plant never re-opened and after an agreement reached with the Italian authorities in 1980, the site was turned into a park, which includes a sports field.

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