(NEW YORK) — Air pollution, such as the dense smog that blanketed one quarter of china in January, has long been known as a public health hazard. A new study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, is raising concerns for expectant moms and the air they breathe.
In the largest study of its kind, researchers at 14 locations analyzed three million births in nine countries, including the United States, Canada and South Korea. They compiled the average levels of air pollution to which expecting mothers were exposed, looking specifically at exposure to traffic exhaust, power plants and dust.
The researchers found that pregnant women who breathe in high levels of air pollution increase their risk of having babies with low birth weight. Low birth weight, in turn, is associated with higher infant mortality, as well as diseases in childhood and in adult life.
The study’s authors say their research does not necessarily indicate a causal link between birth weight and pollution.
Still, the study’s findings add to arguments for considering birth complications during policy discussions on air quality.
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