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The Silent Impact: Miscarriage Risk Soars with Exposure to Air Pollution

Pregnant Lady In City  Pollution

A groundbreaking study unveiled a concerning connection between exposure to pollution—specifically PM2.5, PM10, and NOx—and an increased risk of spontaneous abortion or miscarriage.

Published in Springer’s Air Quality, Atmosphere & Health journal, the study titled "Exploring the association between air pollution and spontaneous abortion through systematic review and bibliometric analysis" delves into the intricate relationship between air quality and the heartbreaking occurrence of miscarriages.

Miscarriages across regions in India
Miscarriages across regions in India

Report Stated - When you're pregnant, you likely spend a lot of time indoors. Surprisingly, the air inside your home can have a bigger impact on your health than outdoor air.

This includes figuring out how much you're exposed to different pollutants, measuring the levels of those pollutants, and considering when you're most vulnerable to them. We also need to pay attention to other factors that could affect the results. The report stresses the importance of making sure we include all kinds of people in the study, especially those who might be more sensitive to these issues.

Air pollution can negatively affect maternal health and pregnancy outcomes of women leading to pregnancy loss, pre-term birth, a low birth weight, stillbirth, intrauterine growth restriction, and congenital abnormalities. Pregnancy loss is the most severe adverse pregnancy outcome,” the study said, adding that the findings can guide future research, and policy development and support public health interventions to control the adverse effects of air pollution on reproductive health.

Effects of Air Pollution on Expecting Mother's
Effects of Air Pollution on Expecting Mothers

Potential Dangers of Being Exposed to Air Pollution During Pregnancy

  1. Low Birth Weight – The ideal pregnancy delivers six to nine-pound babies at 38–40 weeks. Babies under five pounds eight ounces are considered “low birth weight.” On average, one in every 12 babies in India is born underweight—for a variety of reasons but exposure to air pollution while pregnant is speculated to cause this complication.

  2. Preterm Birth – According to a study by The Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) at the University of York, nearly three million babies are born prematurely each year because of air pollution. That means 18 percent of all annual preterm births have been linked to exposure to particulate matter pollution. Children born before term have a significant risk of neurological disorders and permanent physical disabilities. While premature birth can happen to anyone for many reasons, air pollution is one you should try to avoid.

  3. Autism – An alarming Harvard study revealed that women exposed to high particulate matter pollution during their third trimesters were twice as likely to deliver a child with autism—especially if they lived near a highway where particulate matter is highest. It’s important to note that this study found that women exposed to the same dangerous levels of particulate matter earlier in pregnancy didn’t experience an elevated risk of having a child with autism.

  4. Asthma – Air pollution exacerbates asthma. In pregnant women, this can be dangerous because asthma can cause preeclampsia, a condition that causes elevated blood pressure and decreased function of the liver and kidneys. When asthma is well-managed, you and your baby should be fine. However, untreated asthma can cause your baby to suffer from a lack of oxygen, leading to poor growth, premature birth, and low birth weight. Research has also found that exposure to air pollution can increase your baby’s chances of developing asthma later in life because particulate matter pollution breaches the placenta.

5. Fertility Issues – If you plan on starting or expanding a family, you may need to be careful with the air you breathe. Multiple studies have determined air pollution contributes to lower fertility rates in men and women. Some research also links air pollution to miscarriages.

Risk of Miscarriages if PM2.5 increases
Risk of Miscarriages if PM2.5 increases

Ways to Protect Yourself From Air Pollution While Pregnant

1. Check the Air: Don't assume clean air just by looking. Check your zip code's daily Air Quality Index (AQI) to know if it's safe.

2. Purify Indoor Air: Outdoor or indoor, air quality matters. Get an air purifier to clear out pollutants and create a healthier home for you and your baby.

3. Mind Your Activities: Cooking, painting, or using hair spray introduces pollutants. Opt for natural cleaners, use your vent hood, and keep an eye out for mold.

4. Stay Indoors Smartly: Outdoor air affects your skin, too. When pollution levels are high, stay indoors, even if you wear a mask. Use air purifiers for added protection.

5. Bring in the Green: Certain plants, like spider and snake plants, naturally clean the air. Keep one plant for every 100 square feet to ensure cleaner air for you and your growing baby.

Remember, pregnancy is a delicate balance. We at UBreathe suggest, that by following these tips, you can avoid unnecessary exposure to air pollution and keep your baby and loved ones safe.

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