Several cities around the world are grappling with a growing problem of increasing air pollution. Suspended particulate matters, nitrogen dioxide, vehicular exhaust, building emissions, secondhand smoke, dust and chemicals are all part of air pollution and can cause various health issues like coughing, wheezing, fatigue, eye and sinus irritation and even cancer. Effects of pollution on pregnancy can severely impact pregnant women. Several studies have found that exposure to air pollution in the first and second trimesters of pregnancy increases the risk of premature birth and low birth weight. Here are some of the effects of pollution on pregnancy:
- Low Birth Weight
Beijing is considered to be one of the most polluted cities in the world. A study done in Beijing connected air pollution to low birth weight. When researchers studied women who were pregnant during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, the city had lower emissions and improved air quality. During this time, women who were in their eighth month of pregnancy gave birth to heavier babies, as compared to those who gave birth in the previous months. Thus, researchers came to the conclusion that higher levels of pollution are linked to lower birth weight.
- Preterm Birth
A study by The Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) at the University of York found that every year, around three million babies are born prematurely due to air pollution. Around 18 percent of all annual preterm births have been linked to particulate matter pollution. Preterm children are at a higher risk of neurological disorders and physical disabilities.
A study by Harvard University found that women who were exposed to high levels of pollution during their third trimesters were more likely to deliver a child with autism. This study also found that women who were exposed to similar levels of pollution early on in their pregnancy didn’t have the same risk of having a child with autism.
- Fertility Issues
Several studies have linked exposure to air pollution leading to lower fertility rates in men and women. There have also been reports of air pollution leading to miscarriages in certain cases. So if you’re trying to get pregnant, it is important to take necessary precautions to protect yourself from air pollution.
Tips to stay safe from air pollution
There are certain things that you can do to reduce your exposure to air pollution. Some useful tips include:
- Know the Air Quality Index (AQI)- Air Quality Index (AQI) helps determine the quality of air you breathe in. A relatively clear looking air can be polluted with small particulate matters, invisible to the naked eye. Make sure you look up the air quality index report of the area you live in. Various online resources can help you find out the AQI of your area.
- Invest in an Air Purifier- Pollution doesn’t mean only the air outside, it also means the air inside your home. The pollutants indoors are at least two to five times higher than the ones outdoors. Buying an air purifier for home can solve this problem to a large extent. They help remove smoke, allergens, mold and germs from the air, and give you a healthier environment.
- Use Healthier options – Using chemical based hair sprays, paint, and even certain forms of cooking can contaminate the air in your house. A healthy atmosphere can be created by using natural cleaners in your household, using exhaust while cooking and checking for mold routinely, etc.
- Buy Air-Purifying Plants- Plants act as natural filters for the air. It might be useful for all pregnant woman to buy various air-purifying plants which help replace carbon dioxide with oxygen. Snake plants, peace lily, spider plants etc. are some examples of air purifying plants. For best results, get one plant for every 100 square feet.
Although it might be nearly impossible to avoid air pollution, the above tips may be useful in minimizing their effect to a great extent. To know more about how effects of pollution on pregnancy, talk to our experts at KIMS Cuddles. Hope this blog about effects of pollution on pregnancy was helpful to you.