KOMO 4's COVERAGE OF CLUSTER OF ANANCEPHALY IN WASHINGTON STATE
Last night KOMO 4, Western Washington state's ABC affiliate, had a very compelling story about the cluster of anancephaly cases occurring in eastern Washington state. It seems that three counties in that part of the state are having an unusual number of cases, four times the national average, of late.
While our group's focus is on hydrocephalus, anancephaly is also a neural tube defect that prevents the full development of the brain. In most cases these kids live for a matter of hours, there have been some who have lived longer, but they lack the brain development to live very long or develop into fully functioning children. So even though this isn't directly related to hydrocephalus, it is still an interest for some of us as a brain issue.
Jeff Burnside, the reporter at KOMO4, did a good job of describing the situation. I had seen another story about this subject on The Doctors awhile back. Everyone impacted by this story is wondering why this is happening with such frequency in this particular area. As with congenital hydrocephalus, anancephaly is a neural tube defect where the mother's folic acid levels are of critical importance. Yet, is the cause of this cluster partially (or wholly) related to pollution, contamination, pesticide exposure, exposure to unknown elements from the Hanford site? Other news reporters have been investigating illnesses and unreported dangers to workers at the Hanford site cleanup, just as Hanford did during government testing over 60 years ago. There are lots of unanswered questions and concerns about how all this could (or might not) be related to what is happening today to the unborn.
It is going to be interesting to see how this plays out over the next months, years and decades. The CDC is looking at this cluster with interest, apparently.