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Washington State Health Officials Stumped by High Rate of Birth Defects via abc news

A high rate of birth defects has confounded Washington health officials, who have been unable to identify a cause.

A report released Tuesday by the Washington State Department of Health said that, since 2010, the neighboring counties of Yakima, Benton and Franklin have an unusually high number pregnancies affected by the birth defect anencephaly, which results in a newborns’ brains being severely underdeveloped.

In the U.S., there are approximately one or two expected cases of anencephaly for every 10,000 annual births. However, in the three named Washington counties, with a total population of approximately 515,000, the health department found that there was an abnormally high number of cases reported from January 2010 to January 2013 with approximately eight cases of anencephaly for every 10,000 births.

Anencephaly is a birth defect, almost always fatal, where the neural tubes in the fetus do not close properly. As a result, the forward part the fetus’ brain is not developed and the other part of the brain is exposed to amniotic fluid, causing further damage. Most fetuses that develop the defect are stillborn. Those who survive to birth usually die shortly after being born.

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  1. yukimiyamotodepaul says

    Yakima, Benton, and Franklin counties are in close proximity of Hanford nuclear facility where the radioactive waste is leaking, while the article has no mention of it.



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