BirthDefectsResearch Reveals Links Between Fracking and Birth Defects

A new US study by researchers from the Institute for Health and the Environment (New York), Center for Environmental Health (New York), and the University of Missouri Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health and Department of Biological Sciences; examines the developmental and reproductive effects of chemicals associated with unconventional oil and natural gas operations. The authors have reviewed scientific literature providing evidence that adult and early life exposure to chemicals associated with unconventional oil and gas (UOG) operations can result in adverse reproductive health and developmental effects in humans.

The study reveals that fracking operations have the potential to increase air and water pollution in communities located near fracking operations and that every stage of UOG operation from well construction to extraction, operations, transportation, and distribution can lead to air and water contamination. The pollutants found near UOG operation sites are recognized as being developmental and reproductive toxicants.

Health effects associated with chemicals used in fracking operations include the following:

➢ Adverse effects on the menstrual cycle and overall fecundity in women.

➢ Increased risks of miscarriage and/or stillbirths due to exposure to heavy metals during pregnancy.

➢ Increased risks of low birth weight and preterm birth, a leading global cause of perinatal morbidity and mortality.

➢ Specific birth defects on developing fetuses; for example, maternal benzene exposure has been linked to neural tube defects in their children.

➢ Reduced semen quality in men and laboratory animals.

The study says developing fetus is particularly sensitive to environmental factors, and research shows that there are critical windows of vulnerability during prenatal and early postnatal development, during which chemical exposures can cause potentially permanent damage to the growing embryo and fetus.

This report emphasizes an urgent need for thorough research investigation on the potential health consequences for adults, infants, and children from these chemicals including bio-monitoring of human, domestic and wild animals for these chemicals; and systematic and comprehensive epidemiological studies to examine the potential for human harm.

The authors of the report have no relevant financial relationships, no conflicts of interest and used peer-reviewed bibliographic databases.

Click here to read the full report.

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