Study suggests exposure to traffic pollution during pregnancy could have detrimental effects on your baby’s health by causing low birth weight.
A new study published 05 December 2017 analysed the effect of air and noise pollution on unborn babies’ health and well-being. The outcome did find a link between exposure to traffic pollution during pregnancy affects birth weight. The team of researchers, led by Imperial College London, used national birth registers to study more than 540,000 births in Greater London between 2006 and 2010. They then compared their findings with the average amounts of air pollutants including nitrogen dioxide, nitrogen oxides and PM2.5 fine particles.
“Our study has shown that a small but significant proportion of babies born underweight in London are directly attributable to exposure to air pollution, particularly to small particles produced by road traffic”, says Dr Mireille Toledano, who led the research.
The study, published in the British Medical Journal found that air pollutants — especially particulate matter —triggered a 2- to 6% increased chance of low birth weight and a 1- to 3% increased odds of being small for gestational age. More generally, with every 5 microgram per cubic meter increase in fine particles, the risk of low birth weight increased by 15 percent. The study however found no evidence that exposure to road traffic noise caused any adverse effects for unborn babies.
Globally, two billion children – 90% of all children – are exposed to air pollution levels above World Health Organization guidelines (10 micrograms per cubic meter). “It is an unacceptable situation that there are factors a woman cannot control that adversely affect her unborn baby,” said Mireille Toledano, of the Imperial College London. “we can prevent 90 babies being born with low birth weight in London. The current limits are not protecting pregnant women, and they’re not protecting unborn babies.”
More than 20 million infants worldwide are born each year at a low birth weight – which is less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces. It can lead to health issues such as breathing problems, a weaker immune system, and low blood sugar. “It should place renewed pressure on Governments to adopt meaningful environmental health policies to reduce air pollution and give babies a healthier start in life”, reacted Dr. Patrick O’Brien, spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
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