Parents and local health department officials in a San Jose, California, neighborhood are concerned because an unusually large number of mothers in the area are giving birth to babies with oral clefts. They are worried that sewer gas fumes that have fouled the air in the community for 20 years might be the source of the birth defects.

In most parts of the United States, officials would comb through birth certificates, looking, as best they could, for the cause of the defects.

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