The troubles with the water in Flint, Michigan are no secret. Still, despite the news stories, first-hand accounts and even the celebrities who’ve lent their voices to the issue, residents still don’t believe enough has been done. In fact, many feel that the water is still taking wrecking havoc on their bodies as well as the embryos they’re carrying.
In a recent article for Rewire, two women, living in Flint spoke about the miscarriages they’ve suffered and why they believe the contaminated water is the cause.
Rachel Lauren, 30, has four healthy children and found out this past September that she was expecting her fifth.
“I was sleeping a lot, and thought, ‘Oh boy, here we go again. I was excited to have another baby.”
Lauren moved to Flint in November of 2013, just before the news of the water crisis began making national news. Naturally, she, like many of the other residents, used the city’s water for cooking, bathing and drinking.
She did all of this when she was pregnant with her last child, Brielle, now 11 months old.
But this most recent pregnancy was different. On October 23, she started bleeding.
“I know people say it’s normal to bleed old blood sometimes but I never had this before,” she said.
From there, Lauren started cramping heavily. She went to the bathroom and passed a lot of bright red blood onto a tissue.
“I felt an overwhelming sense of loss and started to cry. I knew I had lost my baby,” she said.
Later, doctors confirmed that she had miscarried with her amniotic sac still inside of her. She would pass it later.
While doctors can’t confirm that contaminated water is what caused her to lose this pregnancy, it is the only difference from her first three pregnancies. And according to Lauren, there’ s not a doubt in her mind that the water is what did it.
“I’m only 30, I’ve had normal healthy pregnancies and four beautiful, healthy children. Now, all of a sudden, I can’t carry a baby?” she said.
As you know, Flint is a low-income, predominately Black community where at least 12 deaths due to lead in the water have been recorded since the crisis began three years ago.
Those who have studied the effects of Flint’s water have found that since 2014, there have been more fetal deaths and fewer pregnancies in the city since April 2014, the year the city switched its water supply to the polluted Flint River.
According to the Detroit Free Press, Daniel Grossman of West Virginia University, found that fetal deaths in
Flint rose by 58 percent and fertility rates dropped by 12 percent.
Nakiya Wakes, 42, has miscarried twice, including one last month, since 2014. She, like Lauren, is also convinced the water is the reason.
“I lost twins again last month,” she said. The first on October 4, and the second on October 27. “It’s devastating. I really believe it’s the water.”
While the city has rerouted its water supply and is in the process of changing the pipes that have been exposed, these women say their trust has been shattered. Both women are continuing to use bottled water.
While Lauren did have high lead levels when she was pregnant, she has refused to test her daughter for fear she might have them too.
“I know it sounds irresponsible but I don’t know what I’d do. It would be devastating for me,” she said.
According to the World Health Organization, increased lead levels can affect children’s brain development, IQ, attention span, and can result in anti-social behavior, anemia, hypertension, renal problems, and toxicity to the reproductive organs.
“There have been far too many miscarriages to count,” local activist Melissa Mays told Rewire. “It’s sad because we have no idea what the heavy metals, carcinogenic byproducts, bacteria, and whatever else we have been, and are still being, exposed to has done to our bodies. Will our sons have low sperm counts? How many young girls will not be able to become mothers because their eggs are poisoned? We just don’t know, and the State of Michigan just wants to sweep it all under the rug like it’s all in the past.”
“I’m never going to trust Flint water again. The damage is already done,” Wakes said. “A lot of people are still upset. A lot of people have lost their trust. It’s ridiculous what they have done to us. I want people to be aware that we are still struggling and that reports of all the pipes being replaced and the water being safe are not true.”