In the year after Flint, Michigan changed its water supply to the lead-tainted Flint River, there was decrease in fertility and an increase in fetal deaths among residents, according to an analysis of health statistics by a team of U.S. economists.
Economists David Slusky of the University of Kansas and Daniel Grossman of West Virginia University compared health statistics in Flint during the crisis to those from 15 other economically similar cities in Michigan. They found fertility rates among women in Flint who drank the lead-contaminated water dropped 12 percent compared to women in other communities. Fetal deaths increased by 58 percent.
“The results suggest that either Flint residents were less likely to conceive children or women were having more miscarriages during this time period,” Grossman said in a statement.
In total, the analysis estimates as many as 276 fewer children were born in Flint during the water crisis than if the city hadn’t switched its water source. Those children that were born weighed 5 percent less on average than those born in other communities during the same period.