Air Pollution Could Lead To Increased COPD and Asthma Risk In New-borns, Study Shows

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A recent study reveals that pregnant women exposed to air pollution have a higher likelihood of delivering smaller babies. However, residing in areas abundant with trees and green spaces may counteract the negative impact of pollution on birth weight.

Pollution increases risk of COPD and asthma in babies

Prior research confirms that infants with low birthweight are at a higher risk of developing asthma and COPD as they grow older. Scientists emphasize the importance of reducing air pollution and enhancing urban green spaces to safeguard the respiratory health of these infants.

In the latest study, data from the Respiratory Health in Northern Europe (RHINE) study, involving over 4,000 children and mothers from Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, and Sweden, was used. The study evaluated the environmental quality of the mothers’ neighborhoods by examining satellite images of vegetation density, such as farmland, forests, and urban parks.

The study examined data on five pollutants (NO2, ozone, BC, PM2.5, and PM10) and found that average air pollution levels complied with European Union standards. Researchers also analyzed the impact of these pollutants on newborns’ birth weights while considering factors like maternal age, smoking, and health condition.

Babies born in greener areas weigh more

According to Robin Sinsamala, a University of Bergen researcher in Norway, during pregnancy, fetal lung development is crucial. Low birthweight in babies is linked to increased vulnerability to chest infections, potentially causing asthma and COPD later in life. Research findings indicate that even low levels of air pollution exposure during pregnancy may result in smaller birthweights in newborns.

Higher air pollution levels were found to lead to lower birthweights, with pollutants like PM2.5, NO2, BC, and PM10, causing reductions of 56g, 48g, 48g and 46g, respectively. However, when considering the greenness of the area, the negative effect of pollution on birth weight was reduced. Mothers in greener areas had babies weighing on average 27g more than those in less green areas.

Professor Arzu Yorgancioğlu, the Chair of the European Respiratory Society Advocacy Council, emphasizes the importance of addressing the harmful impact of air pollution on infants and young children.

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