Study: Fetal Death Rates Tied to Lead in Drinking Water

January 24, 2014A recent study confirms that stillbirth rates in Washington, D.C. rose in connection with two releases of lead, a toxic metal, into Washington D.C.’s drinking water.

In a news article entitled "Stillbirth Rates Tied to Lead in Drinking Water," the News in Brief blog on the website is reporting on new research published recently in Environmental Science & Technology.
In an earlier study, Virginia Tech environmental engineer Marc Edwards and his colleagues found a connection between a 2001-2004 increase in children's blood lead levels and a switch in the chemicals used to disinfect Washington's drinking water. After city officials warned the public as it distributed water filters, blood lead levels reduced.

"Long-established science suggests that the elevated lead levels should have also increased stillbirths, which are fetal deaths in the second half of the normal 40-week gestation period," writes ScienceNews. "The new study, published December 9 in Environmental Science & Technology, provides evidence that such an increase occurred during Washington’s lead crisis."

The Virginia Tech study showed that in 2001, Washington's annual fetal death rate increased by 32-63 percent over the rates in 1997-1999, and that stillbirth rates returned to normal in 2004.
In 2007-2009, the city's fetal death rate rose again when pipe replacements released lead into the drinking water supply.
Read the full ScienceNews post here. The abstract for "Fetal Death and Reduced Birth Rates Associated with Exposure to Lead-Contaminated Drinking Water" is available here.

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