University of Buffalo logo

We recently saw an analysis that suggested full term delivery to be better than preterm delivery. This recommendation seemingly cautions expecting mothers about their baby’s health. A study initiated by an epidemiologist from the University at Buffalo suggests that pregnant women need not be apprehensive about the effects of air pollution on their health and that of their developing child. It was revealed that exposure to carbon monoxide and fine particles in the air during pregnancy do not seem to heighten the risk of preterm delivery or preeclampsia.

Preeclampsia is ascertained to be a serious condition identified only during pregnancy. All 3,675 women encompassed in the study are part of the Omega Study, which is probably analyzing the effects of diet and environment on women’s health and nutrition before and during pregnancy. The study was triggered in the region around Seattle, Washington.

Carole Rudra, PhD, assistant professor of social and preventive medicine at UB and lead author on the study shared, “There is strong evidence that air pollutants may increase risk of cardiovascular disease. This led me to examine air pollutants in relation to preeclampsia, which is similar to cardiovascular disease and a risk factor for the condition. Pollutants may interfere with delivery of oxygen to the placenta and increase maternal oxidative stress and inflammation. These pathways could lead to both preeclampsia and preterm delivery.”

The Seattle area is apparently considered to have more carbon monoxide levels as compared to other U.S. cities. However, this belief has been tremendously disapproved in recent years. The study author gathered and scrutinized the data regarding specific exposure windows at residences of study participants. The data included information regarding the regional air-pollutant-monitoring reports on concentrations of carbon monoxide (CO) and minute airborne particles like dust, fumes, mist, smog and smoke.

Rudra commented, “In this geographic setting and population, these two air pollutant exposures do not appear to increase risks of preeclampsia and preterm deliver.”

It was mentioned that the exposure windows were the three months before pregnancy, the total of the first four months of pregnancy, during each trimester and the last month of pregnancy. No significant correlations between the amount of air pollutant exposure at any of the collection times and pregnancy issues supposedly appeared. Further analysis will be undertaken to ascertain the way human-made environment and maternal behaviors seemingly affect health during pregnancy.

The study was presented on June 23 at the Society for Pediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology annual meeting held in Seattle from June 22-23.