YAKIMA, Wash. - The state Health Department is trying to find the cause of an unusually high number of rare birth defects in south-central Washington.
There were 7 cases of the defect called anencephaly in 2013 in Yakima, Benton and Franklin counties for a rate of more than eight cases per 10,000 births. That's four times the national rate.
The Yakima Herald-Republic reports health investigators are checking records and interviewing families and doctors. They're asking what the mothers ate, talking about pesticides, and looking at family histories; but so far there's no common factor.
Anencephaly is a fatal defect that occurs when the spinal cord fails to develop at the base of the brain.
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