Birth Defects at High Rate Subject of Public Forums in Tri-Citie - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Birth Defects at High Rate Subject of Public Forums in Tri-Cities, Sunnyside

Posted: Updated: - Birth defects in Eastern Washington will be the topic of two public forums happening this month in Kennewick and Sunnyside.

State and local health officials will hold the listening sessions to get community concerns about the high rates of anencephaly in Benton, Franklin, and Yakima counties. Anencephaly is a rare neural tube birth defect in which a baby’s brain and skull don’t fully form in the first month of pregnancy. Babies with anencephaly die soon after they’re born. The rate of anencephaly in Yakima, Benton, and Franklin counties is 8.7 per 10,000 births, compared to a national rate of 2.1

The state Department of Health says the first meeting will be held on May 13 at the Sunnyside Community Center from 6 to 8 p.m. The second forum will be May 14 at the Benton-Franklin Health District Office in Kennewick from 6 to 8 p.m.

The Department is also working with local and federal health partners to look for possible causes of the high rates of anencephaly. The investigation looked to see if there were common exposures or experiences among women whose babies had anencephaly and how they differed from women with healthy babies. No significant differences that might indicate what’s causing the high rates were found. The investigation used medical records to compare the areas where women live, environmental factors, prenatal care, vitamin use during pregnancy, and other factors.