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Colorado study: No common cause of birth defects

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 2, 2014 at 4:14 pm •  Published: May 2, 2014

DENVER (AP) — A study of birth defects detected in fetuses in Garfield County found no common underlying cause for the problems, the state health department announced Friday.

The investigation looked at 22 rare anomalies detected by ultrasounds at two clinics in Glenwood Springs in late 2013. Epidemiologists looked at more than a dozen factors, including where the babies were conceived, drinking water sources, smoking and alcohol use and proximity to active oil and gas wells.

Some had suspected that the defects could be the result of oil and natural gas drilling in the county.

The study found that 70 percent of the mothers lived more than 15 miles away from the nearest active drilling well and 30 percent lived between 5 and 8 miles from a well. None lived in the same neighborhood. The mothers, who ranged in age from 20 to 37, includes some from cites outside the county, including Meeker and Snowmass.

None of the water samples tested contained elevated levels of disinfection by-products containing trihalomethane, the study found. The powerful carcinogen can be a byproduct of oil and gas drilling but can also be found in agricultural fertilizers, Colorado's chief medical officer, Larry Wolk, said.

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