Today's Cars Are Killing Tomorrow's Youth: Air Pollution And Preterm Birth Data Reveal

First Posted: Feb 18, 2017 03:56 AM EST

Air pollution has been associated with the occurrence of many respiratory diseases and skin complications. But little was known about the correlation between air pollution and preterm birth. Researchers are suggesting that inhalation of the potentially dangerous PM 2.5 particles by pregnant women can not only deter their overall health condition but also impact the growth of the fetus inside them and most often result in preterm birth.

Preterm birth is one of the most important factors that is known to have direct correlation with neonatal and infant mortality, as well as development of chronic health conditions in grown-up preterm born children. According to a study done by a group of expert environmentalists from the U.K. and the U.S., the inhalation of PM 2.5 is deadly for unborn babies.

They collected the preterm birth rate data from 183 countries, including many Asian, African and European, and then analyzed the data in relation to the ambient PM 2.5 concentration. The study results that were published in the Environment International journal indicated that high percentage of preterm births was directly corresponding with high PM 2.5 concentration.

Chris Malley, from the Stockholm Environment Institute, University of York, U.K., who is also the lead author of the study, said, "Air pollution may not just harm people who are breathing the air directly - it may also seriously affect a baby in its mother's womb."

The results indicated that the highest percentage of premature birth was found in South and East Asian countries, especially in India and China. reported that India alone recorded 1 million preterm births in the year 2010, while China has a staggering 500,000 on its own. The main culprit behind these figures were pointed out to be the not so well maintained automobile vehicles, incessant coal burning and forest fires.

The researchers also indicated that pregnant women residing in Chinese or Indian cities have 10 times more probability of inhaling the toxic PM 2.5 suspended particles than those residing somewhere in rural England or France. However, the data shown in the article are from 2010. With the recent reports of record-breaking pollution levels in London, Scotland and many other European countries, it is highly likely that the same results would not be applicable now.

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