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Study: Rate of low birth weight in babies increased in Flint during the city's water crisis

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A recent study finds the Flint water crisis increased the rate of low birth weight in babies born to moms who were exposed to lead in the city's tap water.

The Yale School of Public Health reviewed data on 15,425 children born in Flint between 2008 and 2015, compared with 5,476,852 newborns born in 162 similar cities around the country.

Researcher Xi Chen said, during the water crisis in Flint, babies were born more than an ounce lighter than average, with African American children having an even greater disparity. The study found the frequency of low birth weight increased by more than 15% in Flint, during the city's water crisis.

Chen said low birth weight can lead to long-term health issues and other developmental problems.

“This impact will not disappear over years,” said Chen. “It will last decades.”

Early childhood education and nutrition programs were implemented to help children exposed to lead during the water crisis.

The study appears in the Journal of Population Economics.

Copyright 2021 Michigan Radio

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting. During his two and a half decades in broadcasting, Steve has won numerous awards, including accolades from the Associated Press and Radio and Television News Directors Association. Away from the broadcast booth, Steve is an avid reader and movie fanatic. Q&A