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Fertility 'Fell off the Cliff' During Flint Water Crisis, Researcher Says

22 September 2017

Flint's lead-contaminated water crisis caused fewer babies being born there-through reduced fertility rates and higher fetal death rates-compared with other MI cities during that time, according to a working paper that includes a University of Kansas researcher.

The research by Slusky and co-author Daniel Grossman, assistant professor of economics at West Virginia University, appears in a working paper distributed as part of the KU Economics Department's Working Papers Series in Theoretical and Applied Economics.

Utilizing other MI urban communities for correlation, the combine took a gander at ripeness and fetal passing rates in Flint previously, then after the fact the city's water ended up plainly tainted with lead.

Authorities in Washington never conceded their errors harmed a large number of occupants in the city, and authorities in Flint and the MI state government denied Flint's water was perilous ― in any event until a nearby pediatrician, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, directed research uncovering late in 2015 that lead levels in Flint children's blood had multiplied.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette charged Lyon in June, alleging he failed to alert the public about a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in Genesee County when he knew that another outbreak was foreseeable and misled and withheld information on the outbreak from Gov. Rick Snyder. The researchers found a five percent decline in average birth weight of babies born in Flint compared with other MI children after accounting for potential selection effects where lead caused the mothers with the smallest fetuses to miscarry or have stillbirths. Fertility can also be affected.

He says that he and Slusky anticipated a decrease in birth rates, given the well-documented effects of lead exposure on fertility, but that the difference was a 'bit larger than expected'. However, the birth and fertility rates did decrease in Flint compared with the other MI cities.

Also, Google data mentioned in their study showed that searches by Flint residents for "lead" and "lead poisoning" didn't increase until September 2015.

"We weren't particularly surprised by this, but we didn't expect it be as clean and clear as it was", he said.

The researchers sought to rule out the possibility that people made a conscious decision not to have children because of the problems with lead in the water supply.

"It's a awful yet inadvertently well-set-up regular analysis", Slusky said in a meeting.

Fetal deaths refer to instances where a fetus more than 20 weeks old dies on birth.

"This represents a couple hundred fewer children born that otherwise would have been", Slusky said.

Numbers documenting them do not include other, earlier miscarriages, or those that occur outside of a hospital, so they don't provide a complete picture of fetal death rates.

The babies that were born during this period tended to skew female (male fetuses are more fragile).

Fertility 'Fell off the Cliff' During Flint Water Crisis, Researcher Says