Scientists have found that women who live close to areas of fracking may be more likely to give birth prematurely.
Researchers looked at data from 9,384 mothers who gave birth between 2009 and 2013 in an area of Pennsylvania where fracking is conducted. They specifically measured key factors such as how far away the fracking occurred from the mom’s home, in addition to “dates and durations of well pad development, drilling, and hydraulic fracturing; and production volume.”
They found that moms who lived closest to the drilling site (25% of the study participants) had a 40% increased chance of giving birth prematurely, than those who lived further away. This was after controlling for other factors such as socio-economic status and overall health.
A separate study found that babies of moms who lived close to fracking sites were more likely to be underweight for their gestational age. According to Dr. Pitts, a lead researcher “We know that fine particulate air pollution, exposure to heavy metals and benzene, and maternal stress all are associated with lower birth weight.”
Additional studies are being conducted to better understand the correlation between fracking, premature birth and low birth weight.
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Casey, Joan A.; Savitz, David A.; Rasmussen, Sara G.; Ogburn, Elizabeth L.; Pollak, Jonathan; Mercer, Dione G.; Schwartz, Brian S. (2015) Unconventional Natural Gas Development and Birth Outcomes in Pennsylvania, USA. Epidemology
Shaina L. Stacy et al., (2015) Perinatal outcomes and unconventional natural gas operations in southwest Pennsylvania, PLOS ONE, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0126425, published online 3 June 2015.
Image Courtesy of the CDC