Air Pollution Increases Risk of ‘Silent’ Miscarriages in China

By Ryan Gandolfo, October 28, 2019

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New work published by a team of researchers from Chinese universities in Nature Sustainability journal found that exposure to airborne pollutants increases the risk of ‘missed’ (or ‘silent’) miscarriages. 

According to, the study found that exposure to greater concentrations of airborne particulate matter was connected to a greater probability of having a missed miscarriage in the first trimester of pregnancy. Sulfur dioxide, ozone and carbon monoxide were also said to be associated with a higher risk of silent miscarriages.

For those unfamiliar with the term ‘missed miscarriage,’ we turn to the experts at Miscarriage Association:

“A missed (or silent) miscarriage is one where the baby has died or not developed, but has not been physically miscarried. In many cases, there has been no sign that anything was wrong, so the news can come as a complete shock.”

READ MORE: Chinese Cities PM2.5 Level Down Over 40%

The study was completed by researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences as well as four universities, observing more than 250,000 pregnant women in Beijing from 2009 to 2017. According to the report, cited by, 17,497 women in the study experienced a missed miscarriage.

The paper’s authors noted that “the risk increase is not linear but becomes more severe the higher the pollutant concentration,” which means that pregnant women living in cities experiencing more air pollution have a higher chance of having a silent miscarriage.

This study’s findings are said to be “consistent with other studies of air pollution and pregnancy loss,” a public health professor not involved with the study told France-based international news agency AFP.

In January, research published in Fertility and Sterility found that increased levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) are linked to the risk of miscarriage, stating that an increase of 20 micrograms per cubic meter was associated with a 16% increase in the risk of miscarriage.

READ MORE: Monitor the Air You Breathe in China with This Handy App

[Cover image via Unsplash]

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