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Exposure to Air Pollutants, Heat Linked to Pregnancy Outcomes

PM2.5 and ozone exposure associated with elevated risk for preterm birth, low birth weight

FRIDAY, June 19, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Exposure to air pollutants and heat is associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes, according to a review published online June 18 in JAMA Network Open.

Bruce Bekkar, M.D., retired from the Southern California Permanente Medical Group in San Diego, and colleagues conducted a systematic review to examine the associations of prenatal exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5), ozone, and heat with preterm birth, low birth weight, and stillbirth. Data were included from 68 studies and 32,798,152 births were analyzed.

The researchers found that 57 studies (48 of 58 on air pollutants and nine of 10 on heat) showed a significant association for air pollutant and heat exposure with birth outcomes. Across all U.S. geographic regions, there were positive associations observed. PM2.5 or ozone exposure was associated with an elevated risk for preterm birth in 19 of 24 studies and with low birth weight in 25 of 29 studies. Individuals with asthma and minority groups, especially black mothers, were the subpopulations at highest risk.

“It appears that the medical community at large and women’s health clinicians in particular should take note of the emerging data and become facile in both communicating these risks with patients and integrating them into plans for care,” the authors write. “Physicians can adopt a more active role as patient advocates to educate elected officials entrusted with public policy and insist on effective action to stop the climate crisis.”

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