The water crisis in #Flint, #Michigan, may have reduced fertility rates and increased miscarriages and fetal deaths, according to new research exploring one impact of #leadpoisoning on the population.
The number of fetal deaths ― pregnancies that lasted longer than 20 weeks but didn’t result in a live birth ― increased 58 percent from 2014 to 2016, when the city had higher amounts of lead in its water, researchers found. The number of live births declined 12 percent.
Overall, “between 198 and 276 more children would have been born had Flint not enacted the switch in water,” according to the working paper by Daniel Grossman of West #VirginiaUniversity and David Slusky of the #UniversityofKansas. Using other Michigan cities for comparison, the pair looked at fertility and fetal death rates in Flint before and after the city’s water became contaminated with lead. “It’s a tragic but unintentionally well-set-up natural experiment,” Slusky said in an interview.
Flint is one of many #American cities that installed lead water pipes in the 20th century, despite dangers including child brain damage and a range of health problems. The deadly neurotoxin has since been banned from most household applications, but millions of lead water service lines are still in use around the country. Rather than replace them, federal law requires cities to add chemicals to their water so it forms a protective coating on the inside of the pipes, thereby preventing corrosion that allows lead particles to leach into people’s drinking water. Flint failed to treat its water correctly after changing its water source to the Flint River in 2014.
Most of the effects of leaded water can only be observed through population-level analysis. As water utilities love to point out, even if somebody has documented higher lead levels in his or her blood, that person can’t definitively say what caused the increase. It could have been the water, but it also could have been dust from old paint or lead-contaminated dirt. 🖐🏾More in comments👇🏾#FlintWaterCrisis