VIENNA, W.Va. -- A three-person team of scientists has found a "probable link" between C8 and high blood pressure among pregnant women, but no such link between exposure to the chemical and other reproductive effects, the team announced Monday.
Members of the C8 Science Panel issued the findings, which are the first major conclusions of their six-year study of the DuPont Co. chemical.
The Science Panel's work is part of a class-action lawsuit settlement between DuPont and Mid-Ohio Valley residents whose water was contaminated with C8 by DuPont's nearby Washington Works plant.
Reports of the panel's first "probable link" findings were filed Monday morning with Wood Circuit Judge J.D. Beane and released to the media at a news conference at a local conference center.
Panel members said evidence they reviewed was "insufficient" to conclude a probable link between C8 exposure and birth defects, preterm births, low birth weight, miscarriages and stillbirths.
But the group said scientific studies show a probable link between chemical exposure and pregnancy-induced hypertension, which is high blood pressure among pregnant women who did not have the condition prior to pregnancy.
Panel member David Savitz of Brown University said the condition "is certainly a serious complication of pregnancy," which can threaten the health of the mother and the baby. When combined with leakage of protein into the urine, this high blood pressure is an especially serious condition called pre-eclampsia.
While the high blood pressure can "resolve itself" after birth, Savitz said in an interview that the condition also puts mothers at increased risk of high blood pressure during future pregnancies and later in life. The condition can also prompt reduced fetal growth and early delivery, raising concerns about developmental problems for babies.
"This is a medically significant problem," Savitz said.
Three of four analyses of Mid-Ohio Valley residents showed small elevations in pregnancy-induced hypertension or pre-eclampsia among women with the highest C8 exposures, the Science Panel said. The evidence was "not completely consistent across the studies," but "is strong enough to conclude there is a probable link," the panel said.
Along with four reports on their probable link findings, C8 Science Panel members were also issuing new "status reports" related to updated figures on C8 blood levels in Mid-Ohio Valley residents, outlining a connection between C8 exposure and thyroid disease, and a more detailed look at C8 and reproductive health outcomes.