News of recent research from Cornell University states that the health of newborn babies is adversely affected by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Elaine L. Hill, a Cornell University doctoral candidateand author of the research paper, says, “A mother’s exposure to fracking before birth increases the overall prevalence of low birth weight by 25 percent.” Hill also found a 17 percent increase in “small for gestational age” births and reduced health scores. The study focused on those living up to 1.5 miles from gas development sites that used fracking.
This paper still awaiting peer review, but Hill spoke of her findings a fracking forum hosted by Senator Tony Avella in New York (where there is a moratorium on fracking) anyway. Hill’s paper won’t finish going through the peer review process for a couple of years, but by then, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation will have already made their final decision on whether to lift the fracking ban or not. In an e-mail, the Elaine Hill said, “My study is robust across multiple specifications and it indicates that our future generation may be seriously harmed. I couldn’t possibly value my career over their well-being.”
I wanted to write about this to warn of potential risks and create awareness, but also to raise my glass to a concerned researcher striving to look out for our littlest ones. We need more researchers who are willing to go out on a limb and say, “Look what I’ve found…” even if the message may be less than popular.