New Study Links Climate Change to Pregnancy Risksadmin
According to The New York Times, “women exposed to high temperatures or air pollution are more likely to have premature, underweight or stillborn babes, a look at 32 million U.S. births found.” The study also found that African-American mothers and babies are affected at a much higher rate.
This research, published in JAMA Network Open, looked at 57 studies published since 2007 that found a relationship between heat or air pollution and birth outcomes in the United States. Looking at the studies cumulatively, the researchers believe there is reason to be concerned that the toll on babies’ health will only grow as climate change worsens.
The paper also looked at research related to the effects of pregnancy from greater exposure to both ozone pollution and PM 2.5 pollution. The majority of studies reviewed found that both ozone and PM 2.5 pollution is associated with preterm births, low birth weights, and stillbirths. Mothers with asthma were found to be at particularly high risk, with one study finding that severe preterm birth increased by 52% for asthmatic mothers exposed to high levels of air pollution.
According to Nathaniel DeNicola, one of the paper’s authors and an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, premature birth and low birth weight can have lifelong consequences, affecting things like brain development and disease vulnerability. “This really does set the stage for an entire generation,” DeNicola said. And this disproportionately burdens black mothers during their pregnancy and beyond, with one paper showing that black mothers are 2.4 times more likely to deliver low birth weight children than white women, while another analysis found that the risk of stillbirth was twice as great for black mothers as for white mothers.