Shocking! Air pollution is causing premature births

Shocking! Air pollution is causing premature births

A recent study has found that air pollution in the US may be causing thousands of premature births each year. Here's how you can deal with it during your pregnancy

Did you know that pollution is one of the biggest global killers that affects approximately 100 million persons? In fact, India's capital city (New Delhi), ranks #1 as the most polluted city in the world, thanks to its dangerously high level of air pollution.

This new has come in the wake of a recent statement that was released by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), that said that the recorded particulate matter is almost 14 times the permissible levels of particulate matter (PM), which are 2.5 and PM 10 (or 60 and 100 micrograms per cubic metres) respectively.

Sadly, it is this air pollution that has now become one of the primary reasons for premature birth, even causing infertility among many women.

In a recent study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, it has been found that air pollution in the US may be causing thousands of premature births each year.

What the study says

The study focusses on fine particulate matter (particles that are less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter). This particulate matter is emitted by traffic, industrial activities and even factories. The study made the following observations:

  • The researchers believe that exposure to air pollution causes inflammation of the placenta during pregnancy. This may lead to preterm birth.
  • Preterm birth may in turn causes a variety of health problems including an increased risk of infant mortality, feeding and breathing difficulties, increased risk of developing other medical conditions, cerebral palsy and even cognitive impairment throughout life.
  • Out of the total samples collected, the researchers found that just over 3 percent (16,000) of all the preterm births in the year 2010, could be attributed to fine particulate matter.

The research concluded that a particulate matter of 2.5 may contributed substantially to the burden (and costs) of preterm births in the US.

5 ways to protect yourself from air pollution during pregnancy

While it is standard that pregnant women must not smoke, there are many other precautions that you can take to protect yourself and your baby from air pollution. Here are a few ways:

  • Follow outside air quality advisory: Try to monitor the air pollution levels before you decide to head out. This way you know what you are going to face when you are outside. Limit your outdoor exposure, especially if you have a habit of going for walks or exercising.
  • Avoid peak hour pollution: If possible, try to stay indoors and avoid polluted areas, especially during peak (office) hours. You should also avoid going out during the afternoons since heat decreases the air quality.
  • In case you live near a busy road: Make sure to shut windows and door for most part of the day to avoid air pollution or dust from entering your house.
  • Make cleaning a routine: Many homes are India are situated in areas that face frequent constructions or road repairs. If you are one of them, then make it a point to dust your house each day. This prevents accumulation of dust on the furniture and decreases the chances of respiratory problems.
  • Keep yourself hydrated: Try to drink as much water and increase your intake of fluids. This will keep your respiratory tract moist and keep it in good shape to fight respiratory problems.

Read: 5 things your must do to protect yourself from air pollution

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(Image courtesy: Geentotal)

Written by

Deepshikha Punj

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