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Air Pollution Can Increase The Risk Of Miscarriage, Studies Suggest

With the buzz and frenzy of Diwali slowly fading, it is time for one of the most crucial part - a reality check - the amount of pollution caused in the aftermath of bursting all that loud crackers and glittery bombs (have you heard of climate change?!). According to reports, the bursting of firecrackers increases the level of pollution by 200 per cent.

On that note, let us take a look at the major causes of air pollution in the country.

Today, through this article, we will explore the scientific assertion that air pollution can increase the risk of miscarriage.

Air Pollution Increases Risk Of Miscarriage By 50%

According to a recent study, air pollution is said to increase the risk of miscarriage for pregnant women. The study established a 50 per cent of increased risk, pointing out that pregnant women must be exposed to polluted air [1] .

Published in the journal Nature Sustainability, the study was conducted by a group of researchers from Beijing who examined the records of more than a quarter of a million pregnant women living in the Chinese capital, between the years 2009 to 2017.

The common culprits were reported to be sulphur dioxide in the air, which are emitted from power plants and vehicles exhausts and increased the chances of miscarriage by 41 per cent. And collectively, the pollutants increased the risk by 52 per cent [2] . The pollutants also include PM2.5s, ozone and carbon monoxide that have become 'one with' the atmosphere due to transport and industry.

The study was able to establish a connection between the levels of toxic chemicals in the air from the burning of fossil fuels and cases of missed miscarriages where the women did not realise the foetus was aborted.

As per the lead researcher Professor Liqiang Zhang, "pregnant women or those who want to become pregnant must protect themselves from air pollution exposure not only for their health but also for the health of their foetuses" [3] .

Pollutants Can Penetrate The Placental Barrier

The study stated that the pollutant particles in the air can penetrate the placental barrier and reach the unborn baby, impacting the development of the foetus. Apart from causing miscarriage, the pollutants also cause low birth weight, oxidative stress, DNA damage and alteration of immune cell population [4] .

The researcher also pointed out that, "maternal exposure to air pollution contributes to increased risks of adverse birth outcomes such as low birth weight, pre-term birth, gestational hypertension and pre-eclampsia - and may also affect maternal health during pregnancy and over the course of a woman's life."

Pregnant women living in highly polluted cities, especially Delhi, Faridabad, Kanpur, Varanasi, Patna etc. are an alarmingly high risk of miscarriage and other related health problems.

With the study strongly asserting the relation between air pollution and miscarriage, the researchers pointed out that the findings have "uncovered potential opportunities to prevent or reduce harmful pregnancy outcomes by proactive measures before pregnancy" [3] .

On A Final Note...

Apart from miscarriage, air pollution also causes respiratory and heart problems, wheezing, increased fatigue, lack of a strong immune system and so on [5] . So, now that you are aware of the ways air pollution can affect you and the ones around you - take preventive and sustainable steps that would reduce the pollution contribution from your side.

After all, it is the festival of lights - not loud noises, dangerous fumes and waste production! So the next time you think of contributing to the already terrible levels of air pollution in the country, think twice - think of all the negative ways it can impact life not just yours, everyone around you as well.

View Article References
  1. [1] Niu, Z., Zhang, J., Chu, L., Guo, Y., Qiao, L., Wang, M., ... & Mu, L. (2018, August). Ambient Air Pollution Exposure around Conception Increased the Risk of Miscarriage. In ISEE Conference Abstracts (Vol. 2018, No. 1).
  2. [2] Conforti, A., Mascia, M., Cioffi, G., De Angelis, C., Coppola, G., De Rosa, P., ... & De Placido, G. (2018). Air pollution and female fertility: a systematic review of literature. Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology, 16(1), 117.
  3. [3] NA. (2019, October 16). Air pollution can increase risk of silent miscarriages by 50 per cent. Express Parenting
  4. [4] Kioumourtzoglou, M. A., Raz, R., Wilson, A., Fluss, R., Nirel, R., Broday, D. M., ... & Weisskopf, M. G. (2019). Traffic-related air pollution and pregnancy loss. Epidemiology, 30(1), 4-10.
  5. [5] Butland, B. K., Samoli, E., Atkinson, R. W., Barratt, B., & Katsouyanni, K. (2019). Measurement error in a multi-level analysis of air pollution and health: a simulation study. Environmental Health, 18(1), 13.
Story first published: Tuesday, October 29, 2019, 19:00 [IST]