Traffic Pollution Linked to Low Birth Weight of Infants

Traffic Pollution Linked to Low Birth Weight of Infants

British researchers have found that road traffic air pollution has a negative impact on health of unborn babies while they are in womb.

According to the study carried out by researchers of Imperial College London, exposure of pregnant women to road traffic air pollution in London is linked to high risk of low-birth weight of unborn babies. The study was published in the British Medical Journal on December 5, 2017. The team called for environmental health policies to bring about better air quality in urban areas.

The study investigated the link between exposure to both noise and air pollution in road traffic during pregnancy with two birth weight outcomes, low birth weight, which is less than 2,500 g and being born small for the gestational age. The team used national registers to examine around 540,000 pregnant women between 2006 and 2012 within Greater London. They recorded details such as mother’s home address at the time of birth, the average levels of traffic pollutants, nitrogen dioxide, and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) from traffic exhaust and larger particulate matter (PM10). Noise levels during the day and night-time traffic were also estimated.

After analyzing the data using statistical models, the researchers found that increases in traffic-related air pollutants-particularly PM2.5 were linked with 2% – 6% increased odds of low birth weight and 1% – 3% increased odds of being small for gestational age, even after road traffic noise was accounted for. Researchers found that the average annual concentration of PM2.5 in 2013 was 15.3 g and also estimated that reducing the PM2.5 concentration by 10% would approximately prevent 3% of babies being born at full-term with low birth weight in London annually.

The study is expected to promote awareness regarding prenatal exposure to small particle air pollution is harmful to unborn infants. According to Infant Radiant Warmer Market report published by Coherent Market Insights premature babies suffering from low birth weight condition need artificial heat supply in order to restore normal body functions, which are important for survival of infants born with low birth weight. However, the researchers stressed on increasing awareness without providing solutions to the issue risks feeding maternal anxiety and guilt. The researchers concluded that to overcome the issue of traffic related air pollution and reduce health risks for the next generation, immediate, broad, and multi-sector action is needed.

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