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By Myron Levin, FairWarning 

Deane Berg, who filed a first-of-its kind lawsuit blaming her ovarian cancer on Johnson & Johnson talc powders

Deane Berg, who filed a first-of-its kind lawsuit blaming her ovarian cancer on Johnson & Johnson talc powders

Deane Berg’s doctor called her in the day after Christmas, 2006, to give her the crushing news. She’d had her ovaries removed, the pathology results were back, and they could not have been much worse.  Berg had stage III ovarian cancer, and her prognosis was poor.

Despite her 25 years as a physician’s assistant, Berg, then 49, knew next to nothing about ovarian cancer. Grappling with the “why me?” question, she studied the risk factors, finding just one that could apply: regular use of talcum powder for feminine hygiene.

Talc powder might be a cause ovarian cancer–who knew? It turned out that some people did.

 By T. Christian Miller and Jeff Gerth, ProPublica 

Dr. Daniel Budnitz, at his office at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Ga. Budnitz has campaigned to have flow restrictors -- safety plastic devices fitted into the necks of medicine bottles to slow the release of fluid -- added to all liquid medicines, but so far he’s had limited success. Photo: Bryan Meltz for ProPublica

Dr. Daniel Budnitz, at his office at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Ga. Budnitz has campaigned to have flow restrictors — safety plastic devices fitted into the necks of medicine bottles to slow the release of fluid — added to all liquid medicines, but so far he’s had limited success. Photo: Bryan Meltz for ProPublica

This story was produced in collaboration with Consumer Reports.

Starting in 2007, Dr. Daniel Budnitz, a scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Medication Safety Program, began tracking an obscure but unsettling statistic about children’s health.

Each year, more and more kids were being rushed to emergency rooms after swallowing potentially toxic doses of medication. By 2011, federal estimates put the figure at about 74,000, eclipsing the number of kids under 6 sent to ERs from car crashes.