Flint Water Crisis: New Study Shows Rise in Fetal Deaths, Drop in Fertility After Lead Exposure

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Flint Water Crisis: New Study Shows Rise in Fetal Deaths, Drop in Fertility After Lead Exposure

The city of Flint, MI switched its primary water source to the Flint River in April 2014 (at the behest of several “emergency managers” appointed and empowered by Gov. Rick Snyder), and due to a lack of corrosion inhibitors, lead leached into the water supply. Obama declared a federal state of emergency, and it wasn’t until early this year when the water quality returned to “acceptable levels,” though construction on new pipes won’t be completed until 2020. Fifteen officials have been indicted as a result of the crisis. In the meantime, lead contamination was conclusively proven, somewhere around 100,000 residents may have been exposed, and a researcher found that blood lead levels in the city’s children were highly elevated.

Now, a new study shows that since the lead exposure began, fertility rates have dropped and fetal deaths and complications have risen.

Per the Detroit Free Press:

Fertility rates decreased by 12% among Flint women, and fetal death rates increased by 58%, after April 2014, according to research by assistant professors and health economists David Slusky at Kansas University and Daniel Grossman at West Virginia University. The pair examined vital statistics data for Flint and the rest of the state of Michigan from 2008 to 2015, zoomed down to the census-tract level.

And a bit about the methodology:

The researchers looked at the number of women of child-bearing age in Flint and other large Michigan cities, and the number of live births, to calculate a birth rate for each city. Comparing Flint to other large Michigan cities helped mitigate for other factors that might affect birth rates, such as couples holding off on having children after the economic recession beginning in fall 2008, Slusky said.

Researchers also considered the possibility that couples were waiting on children during the crisis, or were less sexually active, but found no evidence to indicate that either of those factors were true.