Researchers from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health published a study looking at the relationship between exposure to shale gas development, anxiety or depression during pregnancy, newborn preterm birth, and lower newborn birth weight. Joan Casey and her team utilized medical record data of 7,715 mothers from the Geisinger Health System, a Pennsylvania-based healthcare provider, from 2009 to 2013. They found that women living within the areas of highest exposure to natural gas development had an increased risk of developing anxiety or depression while pregnant. Furthermore, since the researchers had found in an earlier study that mothers with the highest level of shale gas development exposure were more likely to have pre-term or lower birth weight babies, they wanted to determine if this could be a result of maternal anxiety or depression. However, they found no relationship within their sample between mothers developing anxiety or depression during pregnancy and having lower birth weight or pre-term babies. This suggests that the association between shale gas development and negative birth outcomes is mediated by some other causal factor, perhaps air quality, noise, or light pollution.
To learn more about the study, check out these links:
Abstract: Casey, J. A., Goin, D. E., Rudolph, K. E., Schwartz, B. S., Mercer, D., Elser, H., … Morello-Frosch, R. (2019). Unconventional natural gas development and adverse birth outcomes in Pennsylvania: The potential mediating role of antenatal anxiety and depression. Environmental Research, 177.