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

Minutes mattered the day Pat Ward was brought back to life

The Mukilteo police and fire chaplain died at breakfast. She got a second chance thanks to a waitress.

Cool additions at an elementary school in Everett

A totem pole and new gardens grace the courtyard of Whittier Elementary School.

Kids suspected in school’s smashed windows and other damage

The cost of the damage at Explorer Middle School in south Everett is estimated to be $5,000.

Recall issued for about 1,250 pounds of meat

Camano Island’s Sausage Haus products might be contaminated.

3 women seek open seat in 39th District

The GOP nominees hope to fill the opening created by the resignation of Republican John Koster.

Lake Stevens High senior has an entrepreneurial mind

John Cramer crafts and sells designer pens to help pay for college

Marysville-Arlington fiber-optic link planned by Comcast

The high-speed internet line, to be ready next year, is seen as a boost for business development.

Front Porch

EVENTS Health fairs A Senior Healthy Living Fair is set for noon… Continue reading

Cellphone carrier substation in Snohomish vandalized

Detectives with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office are investigating a… Continue reading

Most Read