NIH study indicates air pollution may increase risk of preterm births
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics show that approximately nine percent of women in the U.S. who are of childbearing age are living with asthma.
The specific pollutants cited in the study include nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide. Risk of premature birth was even higher when the pregnant women were exposed to these pollutants immediately before conception or early in their pregnancies.
"Preterm birth is a major public health problem in this country, affecting more than one in 10 infants born in the U.S.,” Pauline Mendola, lead author of the study, said. “Our study found that air pollution appears to add to the preterm birth risk faced by women with asthma. These findings set the stage for further studies designed to help prevent preterm birth in this at-risk group.”
Previous studies have shown the risks of complication and illness to be higher for babies born to mothers with asthma.
“Early environmental exposures can have significant effects on later health,” Mendola said. “In this case, it may be that early exposure to air pollution sets off inflammation or other internal stresses that interfere with embryo implantation or placental development. Those disruptions could lead to preterm delivery down the road. More research will help us to better understand the potential impact of air pollution in the months surrounding conception.”
The study used as subjects 223,502 pregnant women who delivered at 19 hospitals across the U.S. between 2002 and 2008.
Researchers from the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth; the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Oulu, Finland; the Emmes Corporation in Rockville, Maryland; and Texas A&M University in College Station assisted the study.
Organizations in this story
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