Study links air pollution exposure to miscarriages

Scientists have found that high levels of air pollution increase the chances of miscarriage in pregnant women.

The collaborative study between 16 authors at Bejing Normal University was published in Nature Sustainability and examined the records of over a quarter-million pregnant women in Beijing from 2009 to 2017.

The researchers analysed the air pollutant exposure levels for each pregnant woman on the basis of measurements from the nearest air monitoring stations from her residential working place.

Miscarriage may occur in up to 15% of all clinically recognised pregnancies, especially in developing countries, and the scientists say that determining whether or not air pollution increases the risk of miscarriage is important.

Of the women studied, researchers found that 6.8% experienced a miscarriage during their first trimester, with women exposed to higher levels of air pollution having an increased risk of experiencing a miscarriage.

To explain this link, researchers believe that the pollutant crosses the blood barrier and disturbs fetal growth and development.

They also found that pollutants entering the bloodstream of the fetus may interact with tissue which could lead to ‘irreversible damage’ to the cells of the fetus

They concluded that air pollution can cause genetic alterations during all trimesters of pregnancy.

The study says: ‘Pregnant women or those who want to become pregnant, must protect themselves from air pollution exposure not only for their own health but also for the health of their fetuses.’

‘China is an ageing society and our study provides additional motivation for the country to reduce ambient air pollution for the sake of enhancing the birth rate.’

Earlier this year, a major study has linked air pollution to an up to 50% increased risk of death in babies in the UK.

The study found that exposure to three air pollutants, particulate matter (PM10), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and sulphur dioxide (SO2) are all associated with a 20-50% increase risk of death for babies who are born in the most polluted areas of the UK when compared with those born in the least polluted areas.

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