Study Links Air Pollution with Premature Birth
Everyone knows that smoking and pregnancy don’t mix; women who smoke are more likely to have their babies prematurely, exposing them to greater health risks and other problems. Therefore, most pregnant women conscientiously refrain from smoking while pregnant, and try to avoid secondhand smoke as much as possible. Despite all of these precautions, though, a study suggests that women may be inadvertently exposing their unborn children to air pollution that can trigger premature births. Unlike smoking, there is little to be done about the air quality of the city that a woman lives in – but there are steps that can be taken to lessen overall risk.
What the Study Shows
The study – which was conducted by the UCLA School of Public Health, among others – took a look at 2,500 expectant mothers who gave birth during the year 2003. Researchers interviewed each participant, diligently separating the effects of air pollution from other risk factors like secondhand smoke, smoking by the pregnant woman and alcohol abuse. From these interviews, researchers were able to focus their study solely on the effects of air pollution – especially the carbon monoxide and particle pollution – and examine how those problems affected their pregnancies.
Results of the study were incredible: women who were exposed to higher levels of fine particle pollution or carbon monoxide – commonly produced by car exhaust and rampant in densely populated areas – were ten to twenty-five percent more likely to give birth prematurely. Women who breathed in polluted air during their first trimester were especially prone to encountering this issue. This sobering news means that women who thought they were otherwise being diligent about their health and the health of their unborn babies were unsuspectingly inhaling air pollution that was prompting preterm labor.
Babies that are born prematurely have a significantly higher rate of health problems than those who make it to term. Many premature infants spend the first weeks or months of life in Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) where they must be monitored closely in order to keep them thriving and healthy. Understandably, no parent wants to see their newborn baby go through such trauma, so most women avoid smoking, drinking alcohol and eating unhealthy foods while pregnant. The UCLA study shows that the simple act of breathing can increase the odds of premature birth, troubling news for women who have no choice but to remain in highly polluted areas.
What Can Be Done?
Unlike smoking or drinking alcohol, air pollution is not something that most women can easily avoid. Besides moving away to a less polluted area – something that is not feasible for most people – women can take certain steps to ensure the health of their babies, despite exposure to fine particle air pollutants. Many may feel that staying indoors as much as possible is a viable option, but it has to be noted that the fine particle pollution that is so rampant in urban areas makes its way into the home, too. In fact, indoor air pollution is often worse than outdoor air pollution.
Since pregnant women – like most people – spend the majority of their time inside the home, improving indoor air quality is imperative. After all, most people sleep about six to eight hours every night. During that time, they inhale all sorts of air pollution. Pregnant women are no exception, and the nighttime hours are the likeliest time for exposure to damaging pollution. Fortunately, there is a way to improve the quality of the air inside the home: HEPA air purifiers.
HEPA Air Purifiers: For the Health of Your Baby
Whether you are currently pregnant, plan on starting a family soon, have children in the house or are just generally concerned about the quality of the air that you breathe, HEPA air purifiers are fantastic investments to make. HEPA technology removes 99.97% of airborne pollutants from the air, making it pure and healthy. Add an activated carbon filter and you can eliminate unpleasant odors and remove toxic VOCs from the air as well. When used regularly, they can help provide allergy, asthma and sinus relief for those suffering from such afflictions. Most important of all, HEPA air purifiers help protect the health of pregnant women, infants, and small children.
You can start breathing easier and protecting your pregnancy by using a HEPA air purifier. Get one and begin reducing your exposure to harmful indoor air pollutants; your child will thank you for it someday!
- Administration Staff