Study Links Gas Flares to Preterm Births, With Hispanic Women at High Risk

Expectant mothers who lived near flaring sites had higher odds of giving birth prematurely than those who did not, researchers found. The adverse outcomes fell entirely on Hispanic women.

Across the United States, gas flares light the night skies over oil and gas fields — visible symbols of the country’s energy boom. They also emit greenhouse gases, making them symbols of climate change that many environmental groups would like to see snuffed out.

Now, a new study points to another problem: Pregnant women who lived near areas where flaring is common had 50 percent greater odds of giving birth prematurely than those who did not. These births occurred before 37 weeks of gestation, when incomplete development raises a baby’s chance of numerous disorders, even death. Read more about this study, co-led by JPB Fellow Lara Cushing and published in Environmental Health Perspectives.