Report: Premature births 50% more likely for woman who live near flaring

A gas flare burns at sunset at an oil well site off North Country Road 0294 and Farm-to-Market Road 2067 near Cheapside.

Pregnant women living near high volumes of oil and natural gas flaring are 50% more likely to experience premature births than those with no exposure, according to a recent analysis of births in the South Texas Eagle Ford Shale.

Researchers at the University of Southern California and San Francisco State University examined nearly 25,000 live births among women who lived in the region between 2012 — 2015 as part of the study, which was published in the Environmental Health Perspectives journal last week.

Kali Venable is an investigative and environmental reporter for the Victoria Advocate. She can be reached at 361-580-6558 or at

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Investigative & Environmental Reporter

"I am a Houston native and 5th generation Texan, with a degree in journalism and minor in creative writing from the University of Texas at Austin. I care deeply about public interests and the community I serve.”

(4) comments

Glenn Wilson

From paragraph 16, "...there are environmental justice concerns..." -- Is this the environmental version of the economic idea that nobody should possess any more or less than anyone else because we're all the same?

Glenn Wilson

"Researchers found that Latino or Hispanic women who were exposed to flaring had higher preterm birth rates than Hispanic or Latino woman who were not exposed." -- Just as was the case with women in general, so what, if anything, is the point?

Johnson said they were not able to “disentangle” the cause or reasoning of the stronger effect they found flaring to have on Hispanic or Latino women. -- What's to disentangle? The cause would be the same as for everyone else. There's no mention of comparing Hispanic/Latino women to any other group.

“This may be due just to the legacy of discrimination and other socioeconomic stressors that impact the body’s defenses and make them more vulnerable,” she said.

Virginia Palacios

The author of this story left out an important point. The 50% increase in the odds of preterm births was felt entirely by Hispanic women. White women in the study area (who made up 30% of the study area's population) did not experience 50% increased odds of pre-term birth associated with exposure to high rates of flaring. More information is available on GreenLatinos' website:

Roy McLaurin

I call bs on this

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