Pollution increases risk of premature birth by 30%

Air pollution from traffic fumes mean that mothers-to-be in busy towns and cities are at greater risk of premature birth, according to a new study

Air pollution from traffic fumes mean that mothers-to-be in busy towns and cities are at greater risk of premature birth, according to a new study.

Chemicals from petrol called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons – or PAH – are predominantly to blame but benzene and diesel from car fumes can also affect the health of unborn babies.

The study, from the University of California, found that the risk of premature birth increased by 30 per cent for women living in areas of high pollution.

Researchers looked at 100,000 births within a five-mile radius of air-quality monitoring stations in Los Angeles, an area notorious for car-related pollution.

They found that low birth weight and premature birth risk was far higher for those closer to pollution hot spots. Pollution lessened in summer and in areas by the coast.

Dr Beate Ritz, who led the research, has asked for air pollution modeling to be incorporated into public policies in the US – ‘to reduce the effects of these pollutants on public health.’

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