Risk study: More premature births and fraccing risk pregnancies

Fracking increases the risk of premature birth and complications in pregnancy
fracking has been used in the US for years and long remained critical voices unheard. However, since the documentary "Gasland" took up the subject five years ago and has provided dramatic pictures of the dangers of fracking with burning taps, the mood has been tipped. The protest, which is also based on new studies on health hazards, gets louder and louder. The latest of these studies comes from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and shows a greater risk of prematurity and high-risk pregnancies around fracking wells.

Researchers led by Professor Brian Schwartz examined a total of nearly 11,000 Pennsylvania births to identify possible adverse health effects of the fracking. In Pennsylvania, today's fracking industry is active in more than 8,000 locations( compared with 100 in 2006), the US researchers report. The results of their study were published in the journal "Epidemiology" and shed light on some of the possible adverse health consequences of hydraulic fracturing( short fracking), according to the Johns Hopkins University Communication.

Fracking represents a significant risk for the pregnancy.( Image: Romolo Tavani / fotolia.com) Fracking is a major risk to pregnancy.( Image: Romolo Tavani / fotolia.com)

health impact ignored
With the massive growth of the fracking industry, the environmental and public health impact has temporarily diminishedLost, reminds study director Brian Schwartz. The current study provides important evidence here and is an addition to the few studies that have been conducted so far to negative health consequences of fracking. For example, a study by Pennsylvania State University scientists in May 2015 revealed that fracking releases chemicals into the groundwater.

40% more preterm deliveries
In the current study, the researchers analyzed the available data on 10,946 births from 2009 to 2013 and compared this data with information on fracking wells. They found that "expectant mothers in the regions with the most active fracking drilling and production sites 40% more likely to have premature birth( before the 37th week of pregnancy)" than pregnant women in unencumbered regions.

On average, eleven percent of the babies were prematurely born in the study. Women in active fracking regions also experienced 30 percent more "high-risk" pregnancy accompanied by factors such as high blood pressure or excessive weight gain, reports Johns Hopkins University.

More about:
  • Fracking: Chemicals are released into groundwater
  • Placenta: Bacteria provoke premature births
  • Studies: Premature births and overweight babies have debilitated bone in adulthood

Air quality and maternal stress
Pregnant women near the most active fracking drilland funding agencies showed the highest risks, according to the researchers, but the study did not investigate why many premature births and high-risk pregnancies occurred here. Every step of the drilling process brings environmental impacts, such as air quality impairments, that can be the cause of health risks, says Professor Schwartz.

The labor-intensive processes in fracking centers with massive noise, traffic and other disturbances for the neighbors can cause maternal stress that negatively affects their health."Now that we know this is happening, we need to find out why. Is it the air quality? Is it the stress? Both are leading candidates at this point, "the study director concluded.

Increased heart problems and a reduction in birth weight associated with fracking have also been reported in recent studies on the health risks of hydraulic fracturing. All previous studies have shown negative effects of fracking on health, says Professor Schwartz. Policy makers need to take these findings into account when deciding how to use fracking, according to the study director's appeal to policymakers.(fp)

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