Study spanned half-century and separate continents
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 02/19/2013 -- A current study has noted that women who are exposed to air pollution from vehicles or from coal power plants whilst they are pregnant, have an elevated risk of have smaller children.
The study is the largest analysis of data for the study-type, and took into account over 3 million births in nine nations and 14 sites within the United Kingdom, Europe, North America, South America, Asia, and Australia. The findings were published in the Environmental Health Perspectives. The research noted that the higher levels of pollution had an effect on the likelihood of lowered birth rate.
The effects of low birth weight are associations to severe health consequences, such as including the increased prenatal death, as well as a myriad of chronic diseases and afflictions.
Professor Tanja Pless-Mulloli led the U.K. Sector of the study at Newcastle University, and stated "As air pollution increases we can see that more babies are smaller at birth which in turn puts them at risk of poor health later in life.”
"These microscopic particles, five times smaller than the width of a human hair, are part of the air we breathe every day. What we have shown definitively is that these levels are already having an effect on pregnant mothers."
The Newcastle University researchers utilized records that spanned fifty years of the city's history. They allowed for the socio-economic status and occupation, and were able to correlate the number of particles in the outdoor air to the birth weight of the children. The description of “low birth weight” is defined by a child being less than five pounds, eight ounces, or 2,500 grams.
Professor Pless-Mulloli added: "The particles which are affecting pregnant mothers mainly come from the burning of fossil fuels. In the past the culprit may have been coal fires, now it is primarily vehicle fumes.
"Currently in some parts of London we see around 40 units of particulate air pollution and in Newcastle it is around 20 units but going back to the 1960's we saw around 700 units of air pollution. While much has been done to improve air quality, this study shows we can't be complacent as we've shown that clean air is really important for the health of our newborns."
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