Birth Defect Cluster Puzzles Health Officials
the MPR take:
At least 31 babies have been diagnosed with anencephaly in three counties in Washington since 2010, prompting health officials to seek a common link. Severe defects that also include other neural tube defects like spina bifida have increased in the past 4 years in this region but finding the source of these clusters has been challenging. One explanation could be the low rates of folic acid in this area; 60% of women in the reported region do not get the recommended dose each day and 80–90% of the women with babies suffering from neural tube defects also were not meeting the requirement. Although many cluster investigations are not able to locate a cause, state officials will begin new investigations in mid-June.
So the 23-year-old farmworker from Yakima, Washington, had questions Tuesday night for the health officials, scientists and other experts gathered to discuss the cause of an alarming local spike in the disorder that leaves babies missing parts of the skull or brain. “We would love to find a smoking gun,” said Juliet VanEenwyk, the Washington state epidemiologist who helped lead the review of medical records that detected the problem.
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