Proximity to fracked shale wells affects infant birth weight, study shows

" Fracking can damage the health and development of babies whose mothers live near shale gas drilling and fracking sites, according to a new study of more than 1.1 million births in Pennsylvania from 2004 through 2013.

The study, released Wednesday, found that infants living within a half mile of a fracked shale gas well were 25 percent more likely to have low birth weight -- below 5.5 pounds -- putting them at greater risk of infant mortality, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, asthma, ...

“This study provides the strongest large-scale evidence of a link between the pollution that stems from hydraulic fracturing activities and our health, specifically the health of babies,” said Michael Greenstone, an economics professor and director of the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago and a study co-author.

Titled “Hydraulic Fracturing and Infant Health: New Evidence from Pennsylvania,” the study also found elevated health risks for babies extending up to two miles from a shale gas well. "


The research paper, by Janet Currie, Michael Greenstone, and Katherine Meckel, is available (PDF) at .

Old-timers on gomarcellusshale may recall discussion of studies (smaller, as I recall) from several years ago that found evidence of low birth weight babies and birth defects in PA, CO, UT, and other states.

Views: 612

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Fracking is surely gonna wipe out the human race;   NOT



This has already been debunked for poor scientific procedure.

It's obvious the researchers had a preconceived conclusion and excluded info that would contradict that conclusion.


Once again it's obvious that Paul did not read what he posted.

The researchers admit that their study is just a theory, not based on actual data.

They also admit that they did not research other causes for the low birth wait.

They also admit that higher rates of low birth weight can be found further away from Shale wells.

They also admit that there is a study which directly contradicts their conclusions, there is no evidence of the health of infants related to the proximity to Shale wells.

A study that was based on actual data and peer reviewed performed by Susan Mickley MPH.

The Sky Is Falling!  The Sky Is Falling!

Most of the people complaining about fracking and drilling have no land or have no chance of getting a gas well so they are against it. They are the same ones complaining when they are filling up their large suv and it cost them $3 a gallon to fill it up? I hope they drill a 1000 wells in our area over the next 5-10 years.


You just described Paul

Some reasons to give weight to the research by Currie-Greenstone-Meckel indicating that proximity to gas wells is linked to low birth weight:

  • They studied over 1 million births over 10 years across an entire state - a very large sample size.
  • Their research paper was peer-reviewed.
  • Their funders don't have an economic interest in concluding that gas wells are linked to birth defects. (In fact, Greenstone states in the paper that he's invested in energy stocks, which would tend to give him a financial interest to find no linkage.)

Some reasons to discount the Whitehead rebuttal from Energy-in-Depth, which Josie apparently copied from :

  • Whitehead's sample size is effectively zero, as he conducted no new research.
  • Whitehead's EID paper wasn't peer-reviewed.
  • Whitehead and EID's funders, the petroleum industry, has a financial interest to minimize health concerns.
  • The paper's "fact #1", namely "Study finds higher risk of low birth weight for mothers who reside 3 km away than 2 km", is bad science. Anyone with experience analyzing data knows that there's greater statistical significance from looking at more data (the entire black curve in the graph that Josie copied above) than from limiting yourself to two data points (2km and 3km). The fact that it snowed today does not disprove global warming. What EID is doing here is cherry-picking data points in an attempt to refute the conclusion shown by the full dataset; EID is being unscientific. That sort of reasoning would never survive decent peer review.


Ice Age, yes indeed. Back in the '70's the concern was global cooling and the death of most life on the planet by 1980.

1980 came and went and we were all still here.

Leftist fractivists, like Paul, had to come up with a new story. Low and Behold - Global Warming.

The one point that people such as Paul ignore is that the earth has not warmed for over 20 years.

They also ignore the fact that the temperature now is about the same as 1900, right in the middle of the industrial revolution.

Next - the highest use of fossil fuels in this country and world wide, in the last century, was during the 1940's. There was no significant increase in worldwide temperature during that period.

Global Warming is a Lie. Health concerns associated with Shale development are Lies.

But leftists such as Paul believe that if they keep promoting this nonsense people will finally believe them.

It's called the Chicken Little Syndrome.

The Sky Is Falling! The Sky Is Falling! The Sky Is Falling!


First, the study was NOT peer reviewed.

Next you still missed the main point, the researchers admit the limits of their study and the fact that they admit that their research did not derive a direct connection between low birth weight and the wells.

As far as cherry picking - that is exactly what the researchers did by excluding other relevant data, in particular the fact that a greater instance of lower birth weight was recorded further away from well sites.

The fact that the occurrence of low birth weight near a well does not prove that the well is the cause and that is what these folks have concluded.

They also exclude the fact that there are other studies that contradict their conclusion, in particular the reports produce by the Dept. of Health in PA.

Finally - it has been shown that when the wind blows the leaves on trees shake, therefore, we can conclude that the shaking of the leaves creates the wind.

That is what these people are saying.


There is no "full data set". The researchers admit that they did not include all relevant data.

You really should read what you post!

Fracking can damage the unemployment rate and bring prosperity to mothers who live near shale gas drilling and fracking sites, according to a new study more than 1.1 million tree huggers in Pennsylvania are losing their minds.

Barry D wrote “the study was NOT peer reviewed”.

That is false.

The policy of Science Advances journal, in which the paper was published, is “Our team of deputy editors and associate editors, as well as individual reviewers, will rigorously review submissions following Science's peer review policies.” (from

In the paper ( we see

“Submitted 1 December 2016

Accepted 15 November 2017

Published 13 December 2017”

which shows that the peer review process took about a year.

For those not familiar with how peer review works, see


© 2022   Created by Keith Mauck (Site Publisher).   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service