From: Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs
Published December 13, 2017 03:28 PM

Hydraulic Fracturing Negatively Impacts Infant Health

From North Dakota to Ohio to Pennsylvania, hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, has transformed small towns into energy powerhouses. While some see the new energy boom as benefiting the local economy and decreasing U.S. reliance on foreign oil, others fear the potential health and environmental consequences that come along with fracking.

Health risks increase for infants born to mothers living within 2 miles of a hydraulic fracturing site, according to a study published Dec. 13 in Science Advances. The research team found that infants born within a half a mile from a fracking site were 25 percent more likely to be born at low birth weights, leaving them at greater risk of infant mortality, ADHD, asthma, lower test scores, lower schooling attainment and lower lifetime earnings.

“Given the growing evidence that pollution affects babies in utero, it should not be surprising that fracking, which is a heavy industrial activity, has negative effects on infants,” said co-author Janet M. Currie, the Henry Putnam Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University.

“As local and state policymakers decide whether to allow hydraulic fracturing in their communities, it is crucial that they carefully examine the costs and benefits, including the potential impacts from pollution,” said study co-author Michael Greenstone, the Milton Friedman Professor in Economics and director of the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago. “This study provides the strongest large-scale evidence of a link between the pollution that stems from hydraulic fracturing activities and our health, specifically the health of babies.”

Read more at Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs

Image: A study published by Janet Currie and others finds that health risks increase for infants born to mothers living within 2 miles of a hydraulic fracturing site. (Photo courtesy of Janet M. Currie)

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