Last updated on Dec 10th, 2017 at 07:39 am

Experts warn that traffic air pollution could be having a detrimental impact on unborn babies’ health.

According to research, exposure to traffic air pollution during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of low birth weight (less than 2 500 g) and being born small for gestational age.

Previous studies have shown associations between air pollution, pregnancy complications and childhood illness.

Over 500 000 births analysed

Using national birth registers, a team of researchers identified over 540 000 single full-term births occurring in the Greater London area between 2006 and 2010.

Mothers’ exposure to traffic air pollution

Mother’s home address at the time of birth was recorded. This allowed for average monthly concentrations of traffic-related pollutants – nitrogen dioxide (NO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) from traffic exhaust and non-exhaust sources, such as brakes or tyre wear – as well as larger particulate matter (PM10) to be estimated.

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Average day and night-time road traffic noise levels were also estimated.

Related: Air pollution linked to childhood autism

When traffic air pollution is up, babies’ birth weight is down

The researchers found that increases in traffic-related air pollutants – especially PM2.5 – were associated with 2% to 6% increased odds of low birth weight and 1% to 3% increased odds of being small for gestational age.

There was no evidence that increasing road traffic noise exposure was independently associated with birth weight. However, the authors say they “cannot rule out that an association might be observed in a study area with a wider range of noise exposures.”

Related: How to cut in-car air pollution

Source:  BMJ via

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.