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Perinatal Outcomes and Unconventional Natural Gas Operations in Southwest Pennsylvania

This study investigated the association of proximity to unconventional gas development sites (UGD) in the Marcellus Shale formation and perinatal outcomes in a retrospective cohort study of 15,451 live births in Southwest Pennsylvania from 2007–2010.

Key findings:

  • There was no significant association of proximity and density of UGD with prematurity.
  • Comparison of the most to least exposed, however, revealed lower birth weight (3323 ± 558 vs 3344 ± 544 g) and a higher incidence of SGA (small for gestational age) (6.5 vs 4.8%, respectively; odds ratio: 1.34; 95% confidence interval: 1.10–1.63).
  • While the clinical significance of the differences in birth weight among the exposure groups is unclear, the present findings further emphasize the need for larger studies, in regio-specific fashion, with more precise characterization of exposure over an extended period of time to evaluate the potential public health significance of UGD.

Bibliography:
Shaina L. Stacy, LuAnn L. Brink, Jacob C. Larkin, Yoel Sadovsky, Bernard D. Goldstein, Bruce R. Pitt, and Evelyn O. Talbott
Perinatal Outcomes and Unconventional Natural Gas Operations in Southwest Pennsylvania
PLoS One. 2015; 10(6): e0126425.
Published online 2015 Jun 3. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0126425

See also:
Mark Whitehouse, Study Shows Fracking Is Bad for Babies, Bloomberg, Jan 4, 2014
Andy Rowell, Research Links Proximity to Fracking and Low Birth Weight in Newborns. EcoWatch, Jan 6, 2014

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