Washington D.C. , Aug 11 : A recent study has identified a link between hydraulic fracking activities and mental health issues during pregnancy.
The study was published in the journal -- 'Environmental Research.'
The researchers studied 7,715 mothers without anxiety or depression at the time of conception, who delivered at the Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania between January 2009 and January 2013.
They compared women who developed anxiety during pregnancy with those who did not to see if the women's proximity to hydraulic fracturing activity played a role. Hydrofracking locations were available through public sources.
The researchers found that for every 100 women, 4.3 additional women would experience anxiety or depression if they lived in the highest quartile of exposure as compared to the other quartiles.
The occurrence of mental health issues during pregnancy was 15 per cent in the highest quartile, compared to just 11 per cent in the lower three quartiles. The risk appeared greater among mothers receiving medical assistance as compared to those who did not.
The authors observed 5.6 additional cases of anxiety or depression per 100 exposed women. They found no relationship between both during pregnancy and preterm birth and reduced term birth weight.
The researchers point out several possible reasons why living near fracking sites could lead to mental health problems in women.
"Fracking activities may act as community-level stressors by degrading the quality of the natural environment, neighbourhoods such as by the production of toxic wastewater and increases in truck traffic, leading residents to feel a lack of control that harms their health," said lead author Joan Casey from Department of Environmental Health Sciences.
"Another possibility is that air pollution from the sites could be directly contributing to mental health problems in this vulnerable population. Future research could examine other potential factors like air quality, noise, light pollution, psychosocial stress, and perception of activities," he added.
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