Babies Hate Air Pollution

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pixelroiber/2197372140/sizes/m/in/photostream/">pixelroiber</a>/Flickr

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


Here are a few more reasons why those who identify as “pro-life” might want to reconsider siding with environmental foes in Congress. New research in Los Angeles has found that women exposed to air pollution from automobiles are more likely to have children born at low birth-weights. Meanwhile, researchers in Spain have found that extremely high temperatures make women more likely to give birth early.

The first study, published in the Environmental Health Perspectives, looked at women who lived within five miles of air quality monitoring stations in Los Angeles County over the period of June 2004 to March 2006. Babies are usually described as having a low birth rate if they are born full-term but weigh less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces.

The researchers found that exposure to air pollutants like nitric oxide (NO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) made women 5 percent more likely to give birth to lower weight babies. Women exposed to fuel-combustion byproducts like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were up to 3 percent more likely to have smaller babies. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the California Air Resources Board provided support for the research, which shows “additional evidence of the potential impact of traffic-related air pollution on fetal growth” and merits further study, according to the authors.

The second study, published this month in Environmental Health Perspectives, looked at 7,585 women who gave birth at a university hospital in Barcelona between 2001 and 2005. Based on their research, they found a five-day reduction in the gestational age of babies delivered on days after a “an unusually high heat–humidity index.” The researchers note that even a relatively small reduction in the gestational period—as little as one week—has been linked to adverse health outcomes for babies. They also note that pregnant women have a harder time dealing with heat stress, both because they’ve gained weight during the pregnancy and because the growth of the baby causes them to generate more heat internally.

They further point out that scientists predict “more intense, longer lasting and/or more frequent” extreme heat episodes in the future due to climate change—which, as we know, is also a nasty side effect of air pollution.

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate