Last updated on Jan 18th, 2021 at 12:03 pm
The international study of outdoor particulate pollution and low birth weights analysed data collected from more than three million births in nine nations at 14 sites in North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia.
Researchers found that, no matter the location, the higher the air pollution rate, the lower the birth weights were.
There are serious health complications for a child born at a low birth weight (a weight below 2 500 grams) including increased risk of postnatal disease, mortality and chronic health problems in later life.
“What’s significant is that these are air pollution levels to which practically everyone in the world is commonly exposed,” said lead researcher Tracey J. Woodruff, PhD, MPH, professor of obstetrics and gynaecology and reproductive sciences at UC San Francisco.
“These microscopic particles, which are smaller than the width of a human hair, are in the air that we all breathe,” said Woodruff.
Particulate air pollution is measured in size (microns) and weight (micrograms per cubic metre). The types of outdoor particulate pollution include that which is emitted by motor cars, urban heating and coal power plants.
Woodruff noted that nations with tighter regulations on particulate air pollution have lower levels of these air pollutants.
“This study comes at the right time to bring the issue to the attention of policy makers,” said co-author Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, PhD, of CREAL, who observed that particulate air pollution in Beijing, China has recently been measured higher than 700 µg/m3! “From the perspective of world health, levels like this are obviously completely unsustainable,” he said.
The study was published on 6 February 2013 in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
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