Mothers who breathe polluted air are more likely to give birth to young children

The study results show that high concentrations of air pollution can lead to low birth weight.

Norwegian researchers have shown that women who are exposed to air pollution during pregnancy are more likely to give birth to a low birth weight baby.

Mothers who live in green areas during pregnancy are more likely to have a baby with a higher birth weight than those who live in areas with a lot of air pollution. This is evidenced by a study conducted by researcher Robin Mzati Sensamala from the University of Bergen (UiB) in Norway.

Forests and parks

The study focused on 4,286 children and their mothers from five European countries: Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Estonia.

“As doctors and researchers who care about the health of their patients, we must put pressure on governments and policymakers to reduce harmful levels of pollution in the air.”

The research team determined how green the areas where the mothers stayed during pregnancy were by measuring the density of shrubs and trees on satellite images. Parks in cities were also taken into consideration.

Furthermore, data on five major pollutants were also taken into account: nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone, black carbon (BC), and two types of fine particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10). Finally, corrections were also made for factors that could also affect the baby’s birth weight, such as the mother’s age and whether she smokes.

Low birth weight

The study results show that high concentrations of air pollution can lead to low birth weight. Higher concentrations of PM2.5, PM10, NO2, and BC reduced average birth weight by 56 grams, 46 grams, 48 ​​grams, and 48 grams, respectively.

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In areas where there are a lot of green spaces, this effect does not occur. Babies born there weighed an average of 27 grams.

Professor Arzu Yurcancioglu from the European Respiratory Society, who was not involved in the research, said: “This study adds weight to the increasingly clear evidence that air pollution is harmful to our health, especially for young children.”

“As doctors and researchers who care about the health of their patients, we must put pressure on governments and policy makers to reduce harmful levels of pollution in the air. This study shows that greening our living environments is a good way to do that.”

Megan Vasquez

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