Washington Health Officials Meet To Discuss Rare Birth Defect

Jun 17, 2014

A rare birth defect is affecting more babies in Central Washington. After hosting a series of public hearings, regulators and health officials met Monday to talk about their next steps. For EarthFix, Courtney Flatt has more.

Since 2010, a rare and fatal birth defect has shown up in three Central Washington counties at about 4 times the national average.

When babies are born are born with anencephaly their brains and skulls don’t form completely.

So far state health officials have discounted several possible causes, including: pesticide exposure, nitrates in water wells, and radiation from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

Officials are still looking into other possibilities raised by people living in the area.

Cathy Wasserman is the state epidemiologist. She says officials have noted 32 cases of anencephaly in Central Washington since 2010. Five cases have happened this year.

An advisory committee of experts and local officials is deciding what steps to take next. That plan should be ready this summer.

Copyright 104 Northwest Public Radio