A strange, repeated outbreak of severe birth defects has been taking place in a rural area of Washington state, NBC News reports. An unusual amount of babies in the area have been born with anencephaly lately, and doctors are unsure why the defect is occurring.
Anencephaly is a type of neural tube defect that leaves babies without a portion of the brain or skull. According to Newser, the defect is “uniformly fatal.”
As of January 2013, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention had found over 20 cases of babies born with anencephaly in the area near Yakima, Wash. throughout the past three years. That's four times the national average.
Many parents are concerned that doctors did not warn about the repeated instance of anencaphaly in the area.
“I had no idea. I honestly was really surprised that nobody had said anything. If my doctor hadn’t wanted us to see the geneticist, I wouldn’t have known,” 30-year-old parent Andrea Jackman.
The CDC, however, has countered that this particular cluster of birth defects is simply an unfortunate coincidence. In a detailed report that investigated several factors that may have led to an increased presence of anencephaly in the area, the CDC concluded that there were “no common exposures, conditions or causes” in the area.
“No statistically significant differences were identified between cases and controls, and a clear cause of the elevated prevalence of anencephaly was not determined,” the report read.