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Did Toxic WTC Dust Lead to Smaller Babies?

National Geographic recently reported on a study published in the fall 2016 issue of the Journal of Human Resources that revealed a disturbing, but fairly predictable, correlation between exposure to the 9/11 toxic cloud in the early stages of a pregnancy and the baby’s subsequent low birth weight. As researchers Hannes Schwandt and Janet Currie write in their introduction, “Many previous studies have found a relationship between air pollution during pregnancy and adverse birth outcomes.” Yet, up to this point, there had been no substantial research on birth outcomes in the wake of the event that released “a million tons of toxic dust into lower Manhattan.” Schwandt and Currie set out to shed light on this neglected area of health research.

According to Nat Geo, they began by gathering data on 1.2 million New York City births from 1994 to 2004, isolating women living in lower Manhattan and focusing on those who had previously given birth, so they could have additional grounds for comparison. What they found was that women “in their first trimester during 9/11 had more than double the probability of a premature delivery.” There was also a perceptible increase in the number of babies with low birth weights.

Premature delivery and low birth weight are common problems for the urban poor living in polluted areas, but the women in Schwandt and Currie’s pool tended to be affluent and educated, so they presumably had access to good prenatal care. Schwandt and Currie considered the effect of emotional trauma connected to 9/11, but felt they could “rule out PTSD” as a contributing factor in the adverse birth outcomes.

Low birth weight is associated with a higher risk for diabetes, heart disease, and elevated blood pressure, as well as social disadvantages later in life. However, to the extent that 9/11 caused health issues for these newborns, they are also victims of the terrorist attack. As advocates for New Yorkers suffering with 9/11-related illnesses, we at Barasch McGarry Salzman & Penson believe these children deserve careful consideration for Zadroga Act benefits.

If you were exposed to Ground Zero toxicity following 9/11, you may be eligible for health screenings, treatment and other benefits. Contact the experienced attorneys at Barasch McGarry Salzman & Penson who have represented 9/11 survivors from the outset. Call 888.351.9421 or contact our office online.

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