Air pollution linked to low birthweight babies
Researchers have found that air pollution during pregnancy may increase the risk of lower birthweight babies, even at levels that the European Union deems as safe, according to a study published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.
For the study, researchers analyzed 14 studies from 12 European countries, involving 74,000 women who had a baby between 1994 and 2011. They also recorded traffic density on the nearest road and total traffic on all major roads within 100 meters of the participants’ homes.
They found that air pollutants, particularly fine particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or less, and traffic density reduced the average head circumference of a child at birth and increased the risk of low birthweight.
Researchers say that this risk persists even at levels below the current EU annual air quality limit, and a substantial portion of cases of low birthweight could be prevented in Europe if urban air pollution was reduced.