As reported by CNN, a nurse in the area, Sara Barron, was the first to report on a particularly horrifying condition: anencephaly — a condition in which babies are born without much of their brain and skull.
“I was just stunned,” she told the network in an interview. “Three in a couple-of-month period of time… that’s unheard of, and they have such tragic, terrible outcomes.”
Her shocking finding and report eventually prompted an investigation by the state health department. Investigators found some disturbing results.
Over a three-year period, there were 23 cases concentrated in three southern Washington counties — Yakima, Benton and Franklin. That’s a rate (8.4 per 10,000 live births) that is four times the national average (2.1 per 10,000 live births), CNN reported.
What could be causing such a phenomenon? Is it just one of those weird coincidences, or is something more sinister at play?