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Link found between fracking and low birth weight
New research links a mother’s exposure to hydraulic fracturing during pregnancy and the overall prevalence of low birth weight.
Fri, Jul 20, 2012 at 09:59 AM
A new study has found a link between a pregnant women's exposure to fracking — the method of obtaining natural gas by blasting shale with water and chemicals — and the birth weight of her newborn baby.
The research, led by Elaine L. Hill, a Cornell University doctoral candidate, looked at birth measures such as birth weight and premature birth for newborn babies born in Pennsylvania from 2003 (before fracking began) to 2010. The study evaluated records for those living up to 1.5 miles from gas development sites where fracking was occurring. Pennsylvania has seen an explosion in fracking developing, increasing from 20 sites in 2007 to 4,272 sites by the end of 2010.
“A mother’s exposure to fracking before birth increases the overall prevalence of low birth weight by 25 percent,” said Hill in her working paper, Unconventional Natural Gas Development and Infant Health: Evidence from Pennsylvania. She also noted a 17 percent increase in “small for gestational age” births, and reduced health scores for babies whose mother's were exposed to fracking.
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