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Published: Saturday, 7/25/2009

Clyde study on cancer in children to expand

BY TOM HENRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

CLYDE, Ohio - The Ohio Department of Health plans to build upon what it already has learned about childhood cancers in the Clyde area by examining the frequency of reproduction problems in general.

Plans are for an "adverse reproduction outcomes report" to be finished and presented to area residents at a public forum in October, Robert Jennings, the state agency's public affairs director, said yesterday.

The research will examine issues such as low birth weight, infant and fetal deaths, and birth defects, he said.

The Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency have gone on record several times as saying the number of childhood cancers for the relatively small Clyde area is no statistical fluke, that there must be an environmental problem triggering a cancer cluster.

Childhood cancers are far more rare than adult cancers. About 20 childhood cancers have been diagnosed in the Clyde area since 2001.

Robert Indian, chief of the Ohio Department of Health's comprehensive cancer control program, will head up the new study. He has led the state's epidemiology work into the cancer cluster.

Mr. Indian believes the research into birthing problems could help lead investigators to whatever "outside influence" might be behind the cancers.

At a community meeting on May 29, Mr. Indian said it's possible the environmental trigger was a short-term one. A 2005-2006 spike in cancer diagnoses has not been duplicated.

Research so far has centered around children in eastern Sandusky County. The cancer cluster has been delineated within a five to seven-mile radius that includes all of Clyde and much of Fremont.

Mr. Indian said at the time that the work done so far has led officials to believe they are "on the right track," although they are still far from pinpointing the cause.

Health records between 1996 and 2006 on youths 19 and under have been examined in Sandusky County and portions of Ottawa, Seneca, Erie, Hancock, Huron, Lucas, Wood, and Wyandot counties.

A wider geographical area was used to help benchmark the Clyde-area cases.

The Ohio EPA is in the midst of a year-long study of Clyde's air quality, drawing samples to compare with self-reported figures from local industries.

It also is studying the quality of area streams.

No new results are ready to be released yet, Dina Pierce, an Ohio EPA spokesman, said.

Contact Tom Henry at:

thenry@theblade.com

or 419-724-6079.



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