European Study Shows Link Between Pollution And Low Birth Weight
A study carried out by European researchers that involved almost 75,000 different mothers from 12 different countries has indicated that living in an environment exposed to air pollution can make a mother more likely to give birth to a baby with a low birth weight even if the pregnancy goes to full term. Researchers in the study have assumed that poor air quality within a mother’s home can also increase the chances of low birth weight in her children. In the study, factors such as traffic density on nearby roads and overall traffic on roads that are found within a radius of 100 meters of the mother’s place of residence were used to determine the level of air pollution to which an expectant mother is likely to be exposed.
Low birth weight was seen in the babies of mothers who were exposed to particulate matter even at concentrations as low as 20 micrograms per cubic meter. Researchers worked out a relationship for the amount of concentration of particulate matter at an 18 percent increase in risk per 5 micrograms of particulate matter per cubic meter. In situations where the concentration of particulate matter is decreased by 10 micrograms per cubic meter, an estimated decrease in the occurrence of low birth weight of 22 percent is expected, according to the study.
The results of this report were published online by The Lancet Respiratory Medicine. Remy Slama, a researcher at the Institute of Health and Medical Research, postulates that low birth weight is only one of the health effects that a child might exhibit due to having a mother who has been exposed to air pollution either inside or outside of the home. It is possible that low birth weight can have negative effects in affected children later in life. Slama also explained that the results likely are caused by the fact that tiny particles can enter into the bloodstream and eventually make their way into the body of a fetus.
According to the lead author of a report on the study- Dr. Marie Pedersen- the frequency of low birth weight could be significantly reduced if air pollution were decreased in urban areas in Europe. In particular, Pedersen stressed the need to reduce the amount of fine particulate matter in the air. The study is a call to vamp up efforts to improve the quality of the air both inside and outside our homes not only in Europe, but in the entire world.