Let’s play a little game called “connect the dots.” I know. It’s the weekend. We all have stuff to do. I won’t keep you long.
This article is from today’s Post Independent:
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — A state epidemiologist has been called in to investigate a sudden rise in the number of fetal anomalies detected among pregnant women in the area recently, according to local and state health officials.
“We have indeed seen an increase in fetal anomalies in pregnant women in an area stretching from Carbondale to Rifle,” confirmed Stacey Gavrell, community relations director for Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs.
“At this point, we can’t classify any specific kinds of birth defects,” she said, adding the information has been reported by prenatal care providers in Garfield County that work with VVH.
Gavrell also did not disclose specific numbers of cases reported and over what period of time, and how much that number may have increased.
“Their [providers] sentiment is that it’s too early to speculate on the threats of this, the causes and the specific kinds of abnormalities [birth defects] that could result,” she said.
It is enough of a concern, however, that the hospital turned the information over to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Gavrell said …
But that’s only HALF the story. Imagine that. The PI didn’t get the story straight. I mean, it’s getting harder and harder for me to take this paper seriously.
Anyway, here’s the other half of the story. A study conducted by researchers from the Colorado School of Public Health was published at the end of January. The results of that study indicate a higher risk of birth defects in infants born to mothers who live close to natural gas wells. The study focused on “rural areas and towns with populations of less than 50,000” in 57 Colorado counties. You can be certain Garfield County was one of them.
This study suggests a positive association between greater density and proximity of natural gas wells within a 10-mile radius of maternal residence and greater prevalence of CHDs [congenital heart defects] and possibly NTDs [neural tube defects], but not oral clefts, preterm birth, or reduced fetal growth.
There are some distinctions here. Valley View Hospital is reporting a rise in “fetal anomalies” which occur during pregnancy. They have not disclosed whether they are also seeing a corresponding rise in birth defects. But lets not split hairs too much. There is a considerable overlap between prenatal defects and birth defects. VVH also has not yet disclosed the specific birth defects they are seeing. The Colorado study points to two specific birth defects, CHDs and NTDs. Until we know what specific defects are on the rise in Garfield County we can’t make a direct correlation. However it is certainly worth pointing out that a recent study showed a greater prevalence of birth defects among humans living near gas wells and now Valley View Hospital is reporting a sudden rise in prenatal defects.
The CDPHE aggressively criticized the study when it came out [see Daily Sentinel article] and are currently downplaying this latest report from Valley View. So there’s another connection. When confronted by more evidence of public health issues related to oil & gas drilling they behave like a captive agency of the oil & gas industry. Like we would trust their assessment of the situation anyway.
The CSU study does not include any human testing. If nothing else, this Valley View Hospital report shows how absolutely vital it is to include human testing in the CSU study. They are going to all this trouble and expense to determine what’s in the air around well pads. What difference will it make if they don’t also determine how the humans are affected?
Further reading —
The Daily Sentinel 3/8/14: State studies fetal anomalies in Garfield Co. [FREE!]
The Daily Sentinel 1/31/14: Link suggested between birth defects, drilling [FREE!]
Eco-Watch 1/30/14: New Study Shows Proximity to Fracking Sites Increases Risk of Birth Defects
Post Independent 2/14/14: Seeking scientific truth on fracking