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Associations between Proximity to Gas Production Activity in Counties and Birth Outcomes across the US Course

Referierte Aufsätze Web of Science

Hailee Schuele, Christopher F. Baum, Philip J. Landrigan, Summer Sherburne Hawkins

In: Preventive Medicine Reports 30 (2022), 102007, 6 S.


Despite mounting evidence on the health effects of natural gas development (NGD), including hydraulic fracturing(“fracking”), existing research has been constrained to high-producing states, limiting generalizability. Toexpand the scope of previous research, we examined the associations between prenatal exposure and NGDproduction activity in 28 states on birth outcomes overall and by race/ethnicity. We linked 2005–2018 countylevelmicrodata natality files on 33,849,409 singleton births from 1984 counties in 28 states with nine-monthcounty-level averages of NGD production by both conventional and unconventional production methods,based on month/year of birth. We estimated linear regression models for birth weight and gestational age andprobit models for the dichotomous outcomes of low birth weight, preterm birth, and small-for-gestational age.We subsequently examined interactions between women’s race/ethnicity and NGD production. We found that53.8% of counties had NGD production activity. A 10% increase in NGD production in a county was associatedwith a decrease in mean birth weight by 1.48 g (95% CI = ???? 2.60, ???? 0.37), with reductions of 10.19 g (???? 13.56,???? 6.81) for infants born to Black women and 2.76 g (???? 5.05, ???? 0.46) for infants born to Asian women. A 10%increase in NGD production in a county was associated with an increased risk of infants born low birth weight(0.0008; 95% CI = 0.0006, 0.0010) or small-for-gestational age (0.0018; 95% CI = 0.0015, 0.0022), particularlyamong infants born to Black women. In sum, NGD for energy production has negative impacts on the health ofinfants, with greatest effects in infants born to minoritized women.

Keywords: Natural gas development, birth weight

Supplementary Data