By Yuzhou Hu
We all know that air pollution is harmful to the health of children and adults alike. Nevertheless, recent research has revealed that an unborn fetus could fall victim to toxic air as well, reports The Guardian.
According to the study, increased levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is substantially associated with the possibility of miscarriage. Every increase of 20 micrograms per cube meters could raise the risk by 16 percent.
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Published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, the research was carried out in Salt Lake City in the US. "If you compare that increase in risk to other studies on environmental effects on the fetus," said Dr. Matthew Fuller, one of the researchers. "You will find it is akin to tobacco smoke's effect."
Fuller first noticed the possible connection between dirty air and pregnancy loss in 2016, when one of his family members miscarried during a period of particularly poor air. He then began to collaborate with the population health scientist Claire Leiser and others to prove the hypothesis.
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The result of the research is still preliminary, since the risk of miscarriage varies with different stages of pregnancy. In addition, the study fails to elaborate on changeable factors, as pointed out by Dr. Sarah Stock of the University of Edinburgh. That being said, the outcome is "crucial enough to raise alarm."
Apart from miscarriage, air pollution is also detrimental to unborn children by causing premature birth and low birth weight, which have been proven by previous studies. Meanwhile, air pollutants like particle pollution (i.e. PM 2.5), ozone and sulphur dioxide have also been implicated to bear negative influence on losing a pregnancy, according to other recent researches in Italy and Iran.
For expectant mothers, it seems the best action is to avoid going outside or to wear a mask, especially during a heavily-polluted season like winter.
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This article was originally published by our sister magazine Urban Family Shanghai. For more articles like this, visit the Urban Family website, or follow the Urban Family WeChat account (ID: urbanfamilyshanghai).