• Laith Sharba

Pregnant Women Shouldn't Be Exposed to Air Pollution According to NICHD

Factory in Moscow, Russia
Photo by Alexander Popov on Unsplash

Researchers analyzed a study at National Institutes of Health suggests that the pregnant women who exposed to high levels of air pollution they will need a newborn intensive care unit for their newborn children. The newborn intensive care unit (NICU) admission increased from 4% to 147% depending on what type of air pollution they exposed to, the research team compared these percentages with infants born healthy and their moms didn't face high levels of pollution during the last week before giving birth. The study authored by Dr. Pauline Mendola at the NIH's Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health.

Dr. Mendola said short term exposure to many types of air pollutants may increase NICU admission risk. Dr. Mendola thinks if these findings are confirmed by other studies doctors may suggest that pregnant women should limit their time outdoor y suggests while advisories indicate unhealthy air conditions.

Many studies showed the link between pregnancy diseases like gestational diabetes and preeclampsia and sometimes high blood pressure of pregnancy, related to high levels of air pollution. In a recent study showed the pregnant women who expose to a high level of air pollution they may have a preterm birth which is not good for the baby and the mother. Given these studies, scientists search to determine if prenatal exposure to air pollution increases the risk of NICU admission.

pregnant woman
Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash... Penn Park, Whittier, United States

Consortium on Safe Labor allowed the researchers to analyze data collected from more than 223,000 births, the information was taken from twelve sites in the United States between 2002 and 2008. More than 27,000 NICU admissions records linked to data modified from (Community Multiscale Air Quality Modeling System) which is responsible for estimating the environmental pollution concentrations in the country. The researchers matched the data of air quality in areas which every birth is done, they categorized the data to the week before giving birth, the day before giving birth, and the day of giving birth. Then they compared the time intervals to air quality data, two weeks before and two weeks after giving birth to identify the risks of NICU admission associated with air pollution levels.

Another type of pollution, air pollution particles is also dangerous, so they examined the probabilities of NICU admission associated with the high concentration of pollution particles less than PM2.5 (diameter less than 2.5 microns). Many sources generate these particles in our life such as diesel and gasoline engines, power plants, landfills, sewage facilities, and industrial processes.

Exposure to high concentrations of organic compounds in the air was correlated with a 147% increase in the risk of NICU admission, 38% risk increase due to elemental carbon and a 39% increase of ammonium ions. In another and exposure to nitrates was 16% related risks to NICU admission.

Traffic is the major source of pollution particles in this study, according to data analysis by the research team the chances of NICU admission was increased associated with air pollution due to traffic on the roads. The found that in the day before childbirth 4% and the day after childbirth 3% for approximately 300 ppm increase in CO. The same thing to NO2, the day before and after childbirth was 13% and 9% (26 ppm increase in NO2 in the atmosphere), SO2 which is tho more dangerous from above compounds is 6% and 3% (3 ppm increase in sulfur dioxide).

Increased the chances of NICU admissions due to air pollution is a mystery to the scientists. But they have a theory, they think the pollutants increased the inflammation which leads to impaired blood vessel growth in the placenta, the placenta is the only source of oxygen and nutrients for the embryo.

Of course, the increasing of NICU admissions present financial problems to families and society as a whole, that's why the authors didn't overlook it, three thousand dollars or more is the average costs of NICU daily.

NIH/Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. "Air pollution linked to increase in newborn intensive care admissions." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 July 2019. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/07/190719135534.htm>.

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