Alarming number of birth defects in Corpus Christi, researchers hope to find answers

Posted at 3:10 PM, Jun 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-13 16:10:48-04

State and local officials are trying to get to the bottom of a medical mystery in the Corpus Christi area. According to officials, the number of birth defect cases in our area is significantly higher than in other areas in South Texas.

For nearly two decades of team of researchers and scientists have made it their mission to find the reason why. Peter Langlois, a senior scientist at the Texas Department of State Health Services, was in the Coastal Bend this week to update local health experts on his findings so far.

Langlois says data from 1999 to 2007 shows the number of birth defects in the Corpus Christi area as 63 percent higher than the rest of South Texas. However, the most recent data from 2008 to 2014 shows that number has dropped by 45 percent. The big question still, is ‘why?’

"And we’ve got some suggestions so far about answers," Langlois said. "But it’s still really a work in progress."

In hopes of finding answers, researchers have looked at things like the water, air, mother’s age, race and ethnicity and others. So far, nothing has been conclusive yet.
But despite not knowing why the Corpus Christi area sees more birth defects, local doctors are still optimistic after seeing the number of cases drop significantly. 

Dr. James Mobley, the medical director of the San Patricio County Department of Public Health, sees firsthand the impact birth defects has on families and the community.

In 1989, he helped deliver a baby boy by the name of ‘Gabriel.’ Unfortunately, Gabriel passed away 30 minutes after being born. Now, Dr. Mobley hopes the latest research and findings, will help others like Gabriel.

"This is extremely important," Dr. Mobley said. "Because this is a child that had potential that was never realized."?