UC Davis Studies Camp Fire’s Effects on Pregnant Women

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DAVIS -- Shannon Zuiderweg is one of thousands who narrowly escaped the Camp Fire last November.

She was at her home in Magalia when a neighbor came over to warn her about the wildfire that burned more than 150,000 acres and left 85 people dead.

“She was yelling my name and banging on my door for me to wake up,” Zuiderweg told FOX40.

Zuiderweg said she later found out she was pregnant during the weeks after the fire.

“Some of the places we were living had inadequate things like heat, water source, places to cook,” she explained.

Nearly nine months after the Camp Fire, researchers from University of California, Davis’ Environmental Health Sciences Center are conducting a study to learn how the wildfire and it’s smoke affected pregnant women and their babies.

“We are collecting biospecimens in order to kind of look at things that, markers that might have come from the exposure to the wildfires and then in the moms, and then also in their babies,” said UC Davis associate professor Rebecca Schmidt.

Schmidt said their research team is focusing on mothers who live near the burn zone in Colusa, Butte, El Dorado, Glenn, Nevada, Sacramento and a few other neighboring counties to fill out a survey on how they were affected by the Camp Fire.

“As a mother with kids, my son has asthma, I guess I wondered how is this affecting them. And, of course, as a mother, when I was pregnant I was worried about everything I was exposed to,” Schmidt said.

Another study called the UC Davis California Wildfire and Health Impacts Survey hopes to hear experiences from people who lived in Butte County and surrounding areas during the Camp Fire.

“People’s experience during the fires, whether they evacuated, where they had to go to evacuate, what kind of location it was,” said UC Davis professor Irva Hertz-Picciotto.

Researchers are hoping to learn more about how the deadliest wildfire in California’s history had an impact on people living in the state.

“We’re getting started and, hopefully, we’ll be getting more answers,” Hertz-Picciotto said.

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