BEIJING, March 3 (Xinhuanet) -- A high rate of anencephaly in babies has alarmed Washington State, the United States, according to media reports Monday.
In 30 years as a veteran nurse, Sara Barron had observed only two babies with anencephaly.
However, in 2012, Barron observed two cases in two months while working at a hospital in Washington State.
She alerted the state Department of Health.
Anencephaly is a serious birth defect in which a baby is born without parts of the brain and skull. It is a birth defect that occurs during the first month of pregnancy, typically before a woman realizes she is pregnant.
Babies with tis disease do not live long after birth, usually for just a few hours, experts say.
After Barron made the phone call, epidemiologists went into investigation.
The state-led study found 23 cases of anencephaly from January 2010 to January 2013 in a three-county area.
Such a finding meant a rate of 8.4 cases per 10,000 live births --four times higher than the national average of 2.1 cases.
No common exposures, conditions or causes have been identified and the Washington State Department of Health has vowed to continue investigating.
“Medical record reviews might not have captured all information, preventing a cause from being identified. The higher than expected number of anencephaly births in the region could be coincidental.”it wrote in a statement.