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Report: Fracking Linked To Low Birth Weight Babies

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DENTON (CBSDFW.COM) - A new report suggests that living near multiple hydraulic fracturing sites may effect the birth weight of newborns. It's giving anti-fracking forces in Texas, especially Denton, ammunition to argue the same might hold true there.

"The people on the ground are telling us that their health is being impacted," according to Sharon Wilson, who used to live in Denton but moved because of fracking. She says a University of Pittsburgh study is more reason to oppose the controversial practice. "There have been a number of studies linking babies' problems with health and fracking."

Wilson is now the Texas organizer for the Earthworks' Oil and Gas Accountability Project.

In the report, University of Pittsburgh researchers studied birth weights of 15,000 babies born in southwestern Pennsylvania between 2007 and 2010. It reports mothers living near multiple fracking sites had a 34 percent chance of delivering smaller babies than mothers living farther away... even after taking smoking or pre-natal came into account.

Wilson believes it's likely true in North Texas. "People know that they're being exposed to this air pollution and they know it's harming their health. But industry just denies it."

She claims some video she took at Vintage and Bonnie Brae in Denton with Forward Looking Infrared Radar (FLIR) shows invisible gases being given off at the site. She claims it's the same technology companies themselves use. "We can take these FLIR videos that show this invisible air pollution so they can prove -- yes you are being exposed," she said.

But even the study itself says it cannot prove fracking caused the lower birth weights. Saying in part, "there may be a number of unknown factors that led to our conclusion," including what it termed an "unknown confounding factor" and even mere "chance."

CBS 11 News has reached out to local health and hospital spokespersons to see if there's a correlation locally, but so far hasn't received a response. CBS 11 News also sought a comment from the Texas Oil and Gas Association, but again -- no response.

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