Appalachian Basin

Newspaper Column Falsely Attempts To Link Fracking To Low Infant Birth Weight

A recent syndicated column appearing in newspapers around the country provides the latest example of relying on fear-mongering tactics – instead of facts – when talking about fracking and health concerns.

An “Ask the Doctor” column written by two doctors, Eve Glazier and Elizabeth Ko, purportedly responds to a reader from Ohio asking whether she should be concerned about getting pregnant while living near oil and natural gas operations.

The doctors don’t appear to have any specific expertise in energy, environment, or public health themselves, so they instead cite a flawed 2017 study conducted by researchers at Princeton University, University of Chicago, and University of California at Los Angeles who tried to connect fracking to low birth weights in Pennsylvania newborns.

The study is filled with numerous caveats that the researchers’ data can’t prove that fracking is the cause of any poor birth-related health outcomes. Nonetheless, the Glazier-Ko column is topped by this misleading headline: “Study links fracking to low birth weight.”

That’s a bold claim considering the doctors concede the study doesn’t prove it:

“Although the study correlates proximity to fracking sites with low birth weight, it doesn’t explain what is causing these outcomes. The authors agree that more information is needed and have said they hope their study will lead to further research.”

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