Health Care

Flint's water had a "horrifyingly large" impact on fetal deaths, study finds

Flint's water had a

Dr Grossman says that this is a 'large increase, based on a small base'.

In April 2014, Flint chose to draw its public water supply from the Flint River, a temporary measure meant to save costs while the city worked on a permanent pipeline project to Lake Huron.

Subsequent testing by Flint authorities and outside agencies turned up lead levels that in some cases were dozens or hundreds times higher than the Environmental Protection Agency's safety threshold.

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

Residents in the city protested until the government switched the water supply back to coming from Detroit.

The harmful effects of lead exposure on children's health are well-documented.

Exposure to lead is known to have negative effects on fertility for both men and women, and research has linked it to 'spontaneous abortion, ' or fetal death.

Some experts blame the outbreak on the city's failure to treat the corroded lead pipes.

Grossman and Slusky wanted to know if something similar happened in Flint after lead-poisoned water was introduced in 2014.

Health economists Dr Daniel Grossman of WVU and David Slusky of KU compared data for Flint between 2008 and 2015 to data from 15 other major MI cities.

The researchers analyzed data from the US Census Bureau and found that there were about 7.5 fewer live births per thousand women in 2014 and 2015 in Flint than there were in the other large MI cities.

The city of Flint switched its water source in April 2014.

During this time period, residents in Flint were generally unaware of the amount of lead in their water.

"During most of our time period, when the city and state officials were saying there was no problem, we didn't see any evidence of knowledge about lead in the water", Slusky said.

Fetal deaths are only recorded if they occur after 20 weeks of pregnancy, in a hospital. They found that "fetal death rates increased in Flint but did not change substantially in other areas following the water change".

Instead, they found a 58 percent increase in deaths.

The hearing starts Thursday and may last several weeks.

The researchers called the effect on the fertility rate "horrifyingly large" and, essentially, a warning to the rest of the country.

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

Lyon's attorney says Skidmore's home didn't use Flint water.

Flint, according to 2016 Census estimates, is 53 percent African-American.



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