Babies who were exposed to certain organic pollutants in the womb are at a highly increased risk of neural tube defects leading to conditions such as spina bifida, according to researchers in China.

Neural tube defects, in which the spinal cord, the brain or their coverings fail to develop completely, arise very early in pregnancy and affect more than 320,000 infants worldwide every year. They can lead not just to spina bifida, in which the spinal covering does not close completely, but also to severe cranial abnormalities such as anencephaly, which often leads to stillbirth, and other conditions."