Study links birth defects with mothers living close to oil and gas activity

A study published recently reports expectant mothers who live near extensive oil and gas development run a very high risk of having children with congenital heart defects.

The study, which was conducted by the Colorado School of Public Health, found that those mothers run a 40 to 70 % higher chance of their babies having the defects, according to the Texas Standard.

Dr Lisa McKenzie is an assistant research professor at the Colorado School of Public Health and the study’s senior author. She says the study analyzed 3,300 infants born in Colorado between 2005 and 2011.

“What we observed is that more children were being born with a congenital heart defect in areas with the highest intensity of oil and gas well activity,” McKenzie told the Texas Standard.

The study did not reveal a reason for the connection between birth defects and oil activity because that was outside its scope.

“It does provide more evidence that there may be something about oil and gas development or some emission associated with oil and gas development that is putting children at higher risk,” McKenzie says.

These dangers are posed from any oil and gas activity, McKenzie says, which includes well-drilling, hydraulic fracturing and production procedures.

Around 4.5 million Texans live within a mile of active oil and gas facilities, according to a 2017 study by the Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy.