Sunday, April 26

Baby born with anencephaly : Surge in Babies Born Without Brain in Washington State

BY JONATHAN KAMINSKY
OLYMPIA Wash. Wed May 14, 2014 6:51pm EDT
(Reuters) - An alarming number of babies in a rural swath of central Washington state over the last four years have been born with a rare and fatal defect that leaves them without part of their brain and skull, and scientists are stumped.
In a three-county area that includes the city of Yakima, 26 babies born between 2010 and 2013 suffered from anencephaly, which occurs early in pregnancy when the fetal neural tube does not close, according to Juliet VanEenwyk, an epidemiologist with the Washington State Department of Health.
The number of cases is four times the national average, VanEenwyk said, and health officials haven't been able to work out the cause.
"That is the $64,000 question we’re trying to solve," VanEenwyk told Reuters. "Our best guess is that it’s happening for a lot of different reasons."
At a community meeting held in Sunnyside, Washington, on Tuesday, health officials were peppered with questions, VanEenwyk said.
An initial investigation launched after local health workers sounded the alarm in 2012 did not yield a clear cause for the cluster of cases, she said.
Common risk-factors for fetal neural tube disorders, such as obesity in the mother, were not higher among those affected, compared with others living in the area, she said.

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