Urban Air Pollution Can Offset Benefits of Exercise during Pregnancy


A group of British researchers found that air pollution in the world’s largest cities can easily offset the health benefits of exercise during pregnancy. Another study also found that the emissions from car traffic can negatively impact the health of unborn babies.

Pregnant women who live in highly polluted cities tend to deliver babies with sub-average birth weight. The findings appeared this week in the medical journal BMJ.

A separate study revealed that air pollution can reduce the health benefits of working out in pregnant women and their babies. That study appeared this week in the journal The Lancet.

The first study revealed that babies born to mothers living in polluted environments tend to be smaller than children born in rural or less polluted areas. For their study, researchers combed through data on 540,000 live births recorded in London from 2006 through 2010.

London Air Pollution Has Detrimental Effect on Unborn Babies

Study authors also calculated the level of air pollution in London and noise levels of car traffic for the same time period.

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The study revealed that air pollutants like fine particulate matter and nitrogen oxides are associated with an up to 6% chance of delivering a baby with a low weight and up to 3% chance of being too small for its intrauterine age.

Particulate matter is a heavy polluter that comes from vehicles, constructions sites, fires, and power plants. The tiny pollutants are considered to be cancer-causing, according to a WHO study, as they can deeply penetrate the lungs due to their unusually small size.

One of the study limits was the inability to fully assess the level of exposure to air pollution of pregnant moms. Yet, lead author Rachel Smith who is an expert in statistical epidemiology at the Imperial College London is positive that air pollution in London can negatively affect fetal growth.
Image Source: Defense.gov

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