Are residents of mountain-top mining counties more likely to have infants with birth defects? The west virginia experience

Steven H. Lamm, Ji Li, Shayhan A. Robbins, Elisabeth Dissen, Rusan Chen, Manning Feinleib

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: Pooled 1996 to 2003 birth certificate data for four central states in Appalachia indicated higher rates of infants with birth defects born to residents of counties with mountain-top mining (MTM) than born to residents of non-mining-counties (Ahern 2011). However, those analyses did not consider sources of uncertainty such as unbalanced distributions or quality of data. Quality issues have been a continuing problem with birth certificate analyses. We used 1990 to 2009 live birth certificate data for West Virginia to reassess this hypothesis. Methods: Forty-four hospitals contributed 98% of the MTM-county births and 95% of the non-mining-county births, of which six had more than 1000 births from both MTM and nonmining counties. Adjusted and stratified prevalence rate ratios (PRRs) were computed both by using Poisson regression and Mantel-Haenszel analysis. Results: Unbalanced distribution of hospital births was observed by mining groups. The prevalence rate of infants with reported birth defects, higher in MTM-counties (0.021) than in non-mining-counties (0.015), yielded a significant crude PRR (cPRR=1.43; 95% confidence interval [CI]=1.36-1.52) but a nonsignificant hospital-adjusted PRR (adjPRR=1.08; 95% CI=0.97-1.20; p=0.16) for the 44 hospitals. So did the six hospital data analysis ([cPRR=2.39; 95% CI=2.15-2.65] and [adjPRR=1.01; 95% CI, 0.89-1.14; p=0.87]). Conclusion: No increased risk of birth defects was observed for births from MTM-counties after adjustment for, or stratification by, hospital of birth. These results have consistently demonstrated that the reported association between birth defect rates and MTM coal mining was a consequence of data heterogeneity. The data do not demonstrate evidence of a "Mountain-top Mining" effect on the prevalence of infants with reported birth defects in WV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)76-84
Number of pages9
JournalBirth Defects Research Part A - Clinical and Molecular Teratology
Volume103
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015

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Parturition
Birth Certificates
Confidence Intervals
Appalachian Region
Coal Mining
Birth Rate
Live Birth
Uncertainty

Keywords

  • Birth certificates
  • Birth defects
  • Data heterogeneity
  • Mountain-top mining
  • West Virginia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Embryology
  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

Are residents of mountain-top mining counties more likely to have infants with birth defects? The west virginia experience. / Lamm, Steven H.; Li, Ji; Robbins, Shayhan A.; Dissen, Elisabeth; Chen, Rusan; Feinleib, Manning.

In: Birth Defects Research Part A - Clinical and Molecular Teratology, Vol. 103, No. 2, 01.02.2015, p. 76-84.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Lamm, Steven H. ; Li, Ji ; Robbins, Shayhan A. ; Dissen, Elisabeth ; Chen, Rusan ; Feinleib, Manning. / Are residents of mountain-top mining counties more likely to have infants with birth defects? The west virginia experience. In: Birth Defects Research Part A - Clinical and Molecular Teratology. 2015 ; Vol. 103, No. 2. pp. 76-84.
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abstract = "Background: Pooled 1996 to 2003 birth certificate data for four central states in Appalachia indicated higher rates of infants with birth defects born to residents of counties with mountain-top mining (MTM) than born to residents of non-mining-counties (Ahern 2011). However, those analyses did not consider sources of uncertainty such as unbalanced distributions or quality of data. Quality issues have been a continuing problem with birth certificate analyses. We used 1990 to 2009 live birth certificate data for West Virginia to reassess this hypothesis. Methods: Forty-four hospitals contributed 98{\%} of the MTM-county births and 95{\%} of the non-mining-county births, of which six had more than 1000 births from both MTM and nonmining counties. Adjusted and stratified prevalence rate ratios (PRRs) were computed both by using Poisson regression and Mantel-Haenszel analysis. Results: Unbalanced distribution of hospital births was observed by mining groups. The prevalence rate of infants with reported birth defects, higher in MTM-counties (0.021) than in non-mining-counties (0.015), yielded a significant crude PRR (cPRR=1.43; 95{\%} confidence interval [CI]=1.36-1.52) but a nonsignificant hospital-adjusted PRR (adjPRR=1.08; 95{\%} CI=0.97-1.20; p=0.16) for the 44 hospitals. So did the six hospital data analysis ([cPRR=2.39; 95{\%} CI=2.15-2.65] and [adjPRR=1.01; 95{\%} CI, 0.89-1.14; p=0.87]). Conclusion: No increased risk of birth defects was observed for births from MTM-counties after adjustment for, or stratification by, hospital of birth. These results have consistently demonstrated that the reported association between birth defect rates and MTM coal mining was a consequence of data heterogeneity. The data do not demonstrate evidence of a {"}Mountain-top Mining{"} effect on the prevalence of infants with reported birth defects in WV.",
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AU - Chen, Rusan

AU - Feinleib, Manning

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N2 - Background: Pooled 1996 to 2003 birth certificate data for four central states in Appalachia indicated higher rates of infants with birth defects born to residents of counties with mountain-top mining (MTM) than born to residents of non-mining-counties (Ahern 2011). However, those analyses did not consider sources of uncertainty such as unbalanced distributions or quality of data. Quality issues have been a continuing problem with birth certificate analyses. We used 1990 to 2009 live birth certificate data for West Virginia to reassess this hypothesis. Methods: Forty-four hospitals contributed 98% of the MTM-county births and 95% of the non-mining-county births, of which six had more than 1000 births from both MTM and nonmining counties. Adjusted and stratified prevalence rate ratios (PRRs) were computed both by using Poisson regression and Mantel-Haenszel analysis. Results: Unbalanced distribution of hospital births was observed by mining groups. The prevalence rate of infants with reported birth defects, higher in MTM-counties (0.021) than in non-mining-counties (0.015), yielded a significant crude PRR (cPRR=1.43; 95% confidence interval [CI]=1.36-1.52) but a nonsignificant hospital-adjusted PRR (adjPRR=1.08; 95% CI=0.97-1.20; p=0.16) for the 44 hospitals. So did the six hospital data analysis ([cPRR=2.39; 95% CI=2.15-2.65] and [adjPRR=1.01; 95% CI, 0.89-1.14; p=0.87]). Conclusion: No increased risk of birth defects was observed for births from MTM-counties after adjustment for, or stratification by, hospital of birth. These results have consistently demonstrated that the reported association between birth defect rates and MTM coal mining was a consequence of data heterogeneity. The data do not demonstrate evidence of a "Mountain-top Mining" effect on the prevalence of infants with reported birth defects in WV.

AB - Background: Pooled 1996 to 2003 birth certificate data for four central states in Appalachia indicated higher rates of infants with birth defects born to residents of counties with mountain-top mining (MTM) than born to residents of non-mining-counties (Ahern 2011). However, those analyses did not consider sources of uncertainty such as unbalanced distributions or quality of data. Quality issues have been a continuing problem with birth certificate analyses. We used 1990 to 2009 live birth certificate data for West Virginia to reassess this hypothesis. Methods: Forty-four hospitals contributed 98% of the MTM-county births and 95% of the non-mining-county births, of which six had more than 1000 births from both MTM and nonmining counties. Adjusted and stratified prevalence rate ratios (PRRs) were computed both by using Poisson regression and Mantel-Haenszel analysis. Results: Unbalanced distribution of hospital births was observed by mining groups. The prevalence rate of infants with reported birth defects, higher in MTM-counties (0.021) than in non-mining-counties (0.015), yielded a significant crude PRR (cPRR=1.43; 95% confidence interval [CI]=1.36-1.52) but a nonsignificant hospital-adjusted PRR (adjPRR=1.08; 95% CI=0.97-1.20; p=0.16) for the 44 hospitals. So did the six hospital data analysis ([cPRR=2.39; 95% CI=2.15-2.65] and [adjPRR=1.01; 95% CI, 0.89-1.14; p=0.87]). Conclusion: No increased risk of birth defects was observed for births from MTM-counties after adjustment for, or stratification by, hospital of birth. These results have consistently demonstrated that the reported association between birth defect rates and MTM coal mining was a consequence of data heterogeneity. The data do not demonstrate evidence of a "Mountain-top Mining" effect on the prevalence of infants with reported birth defects in WV.

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