Health officials say birth defects study inconclusive

YAKIMA — A study into several cases of a rare birth defect in Eastern Washington has found no common cause, the Washington Department of Health announced Tuesday.

State health officials began investigating in January after an investigation found several cases of anencephaly, a fatal birth defect that occurs when a baby’s brain doesn’t develop as it should during the first month of pregnancy, in Yakima, Benton and Franklin counties.

In a statement Tuesday, the Health Department said state and local public health investigators found no significant differences between women who had healthy pregnancies and those affected by the fatal birth defect.

The higher than expected number of cases could be coincidental, but health officials will continue to monitor births in the region through 2013 to see if more can be learned, the statement said.

Typically, one or two cases of anencephaly would be expected in about 10,000 annual births, but an investigation found about eight cases per 10,000 births in the three-county area.

The defect is generally caused by a lack of folic acid in the mother’s diet or by certain medications or hereditary conditions. Women with diabetes, smokers, obese women and Hispanic women are also at higher risk.

Women of childbearing age should take 400-1,000 micrograms of folic acid daily, either from foods fortified with folic acid or a supplement, under the recommendations of a U.S. preventive task force. Women also are advised to see a health care professional when planning a pregnancy or as soon as they determine they are pregnant.

More in Local News

Inclusion super important to Monroe High senior

Sarah Reeves worked to make homecoming more representative of the student population.

Man, 60, in critical condition after Bothell crash

Police believe the driver may have been speeding when he hit a rock wall.

FBI operation arrests 3 linked to exploitation of 32 women

The sting focused on Everett and other cities in Snohomish, King, Pierce, Skagit and Spokane counties.

Man arrested in Monroe Walmart robbery; second suspect flees

The pair fled in a stolen Mitsubishi Lancer with a distinctive green spray paint job.

Fugitive convict, missing more than a year, surrenders

Charles Coggins, 60, turned himself in Monday. He could now spend up to 30 days behind bars.

Former homeless camp needs needles and garbage cleaned up

The Hand Up Project will lead a volunteer effort this weekend on wooded land south of Everett.

County Council postpones vote on conservation programs

A decision on funding agricultural and water-quality programs will come after the budget process.

A Q&A with the candidates running for Snohomish County Council

Republican incumbent Sam Low faces Democratic challenger Kristin Kelly in District 5.

Gang member sentenced as an adult for first-degree assault

Seth Friendly was 16 when he shot at a 17-year-old girl who was dating a rival gang member.

Most Read