Study suggests air pollution breathed in the months before and after conception increases chance of birth defects

January 8, 2018 by Bob Yirka, Medical Xpress report
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

A team of researchers with the University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Children's Hospital has found evidence that indicates that pre-and post-pregnant women living in an area with air pollution are at an increased risk of giving birth to babies with birth defects. In their paper published in The Journal of Pediatrics, the groups describe the details of their study, what they found, and also offer some advice to pregnant women.

Logic suggests that breathing polluted air can cause health problems, particularly lung ailments—less clear is what impact breathing such air during pregnancy might have on . In this new effort, the researchers sought to learn more about the impact on babies when pregnant women breathe a particular type of pollution just before and after conception. The team focused on in the air of a type called PM 2.5. It is made up of tiny particles and water drops smaller than 2.5 microns. A common source is automobile exhaust, but it can also come from smoke and other sources.

The team looked at data from 290,000 babies born in the state of Ohio from the years 2006 to 2010 and then compared what they found with measurements taken of air pollution across the state during the same time period. They found that those women living in areas with higher than average amounts of such pollutants, just prior to or just after conception, experienced higher rates of birth defects in their babies.

The team found that overall, the women in the study were exposed to 13.79 mcg of PM 2.5 pcm of air (ug/m3) in the months before and after conception. They further found that for women living within 5K of a pollution testing station, for each 10 ug/m3 increase in the particulates, there was an associated 19 percent rise in birth defects. They also found an apparent connection between kinds of and air pollution— malformations of the abdomen and hypospadias in boys.

The researchers note that their study was limited to women breathing while at home and thus did not include such factors as their exposure are work, during commuting, etc. They suggest, however, that their conclusions were strong enough to indicate that women planning to get pregnant, or who have recently become pregnant, take measures to remove from their homes.

Explore further: Exposure to air pollution just before or after conception raises risk of birth defects

More information: Sheng Ren et al. Periconception Exposure to Air Pollution and Risk of Congenital Malformations, The Journal of Pediatrics (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2017.09.076

Absract

Objective
To evaluate the association between increased exposure to airborne fine particulate matter (PM2.5) during the periconception period with risk of congenital anomalies.
Study design
Using birth certificate data from the Ohio Department of Health (2006-2010) and PM2.5 data from the US Environmental Protection Agency's 57 monitoring stations located throughout Ohio, the geographic coordinates of the mother's residence for each birth were linked to the nearest PM2.5 monitoring station and monthly exposure averages were calculated. The association between congenital anomalies and increased PM2.5 levels was estimated, with adjustment for coexistent risk factors.
Results
After adjustment for coexisting risk factors, exposure to increased levels of PM2.5 in the air during the periconception period was modestly associated with risk of congenital anomalies. Compared with other periconception exposure windows, increased exposure during the 1 month before conception was associated with the highest risk increase at lesser distances from monitoring stations. The strongest influences of PM2.5 on individual malformations were found with abdominal wall defects and hypospadias, especially during the 1-month preconception.
Conclusions
Increased exposure to PM2.5 in the periconception period is associated with some modest risk increases for congenital malformations. The most susceptible time of exposure appears to be the 1 month before and after conception. Although the increased risk with PM2.5 exposure is modest, the potential impact on a population basis is noteworthy because all pregnant women have some degree of exposure.

Related Stories

Exposure to air pollution just before or after conception raises risk of birth defects

December 11, 2017
Women exposed to air pollution just prior to conception or during the first month of pregnancy face an increased risk of their children being born with birth defects, such as cleft lip or palate or abnormal hearts.

Living in a 'war zone' linked to delivery of low birthweight babies

November 28, 2017
Mums-to-be living in war zones/areas of armed conflict are at heightened risk of giving birth to low birthweight babies, finds a review of the available evidence published in the online journal BMJ Global Health.

Asthma increases risk of complications during pregnancy and delivery

October 4, 2017
Women with asthma suffer more often from preeclampsia (PE) and run a higher risk of giving birth to underweight babies. These and other complications during pregnancy and delivery can not be explained by hereditary or environmental ...

Women falling short on birth defect prevention

October 13, 2017
(HealthDay)—Only a third of women are taking a multivitamin containing folic acid—a nutrient known to prevent serious birth defects—before they know they're pregnant, a new survey has found.

Air pollution increases risk for hypertension in pregnant women

February 13, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—Breathing the air outside their homes may be just as toxic to pregnant women—if not more so—as breathing in cigarette smoke, increasing a mom-to-be's risk of developing deadly complications such as ...

Exposure to high levels of air pollution associated with higher risk of preterm birth

January 26, 2016
Exposure to high levels of small particle air pollution is associated with an increased risk of preterm birth - before 37 weeks of pregnancy, according to a new study published online in the journal Environmental Health.

Recommended for you

Women run faster after taking newly developed supplement, study finds

January 19, 2018
A new study found that women who took a specially prepared blend of minerals and nutrients for a month saw their 3-mile run times drop by almost a minute.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Rise in preterm births linked to clinical intervention

January 18, 2018
Research at the University of Adelaide shows preterm births in South Australia have increased by 40 percent over 28 years and early intervention by medical professionals has resulted in the majority of the increase.

New report calls into question effectiveness of pregnancy anti-nausea drug

January 17, 2018
Previously unpublished information from the clinical trial that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration relied on to approve the most commonly prescribed medicine for nausea in pregnancy indicates the drug is not effective, ...

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

5 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

MR166
not rated yet Jan 08, 2018
Unless family incomes, alcohol and drug usage are also factored into the study it is meaningless.
MR166
not rated yet Jan 08, 2018
Do poor people live in more polluted areas, yes. This study could have just as well proven that pollution causes poverty.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Jan 08, 2018
"The team focused on fine particles in the air of a type called PM 2.5. It is made up of tiny particles and water drops smaller than 2.5 microns..."

-Which includes of course 2nd hand tobacco smoke;

"Particulate matter under 2.5 μm in diameter (PM2.5) arises from diverse sources, including tobacco smoke from cigarettes and waterpipes, and is recognized as a cause of acute and chronic morbidity and mortality."

-So what does daily exposure of this pollutant do to children in the home, not to mention pregnant women who are inhaling it directly?

Smoking during pregnancy -at least- should be illegal. And repeat offenders should be incarcerated in secure clinics until they give birth.
zenga
1 / 5 (2) Jan 08, 2018
so, presumably, women living in Beijing are more inclined to have babies with birth defects? did you bother checking this? seems to me that there aren't many places with such a high population and such bad pollution.
of course, I haven't heard of it, but I don't know much about Beijing, beyond the terrible pollution.
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (1) Jan 08, 2018
so, presumably, women living in Beijing are more inclined to have babies with birth defects? did you bother checking this? seems to me that there aren't many places with such a high population and such bad pollution.
of course, I haven't heard of it, but I don't know much about Beijing, beyond the terrible pollution.
Did YOU bother checking this? You havent head of it because you didnt bother to look.

"China's birth defects blamed on pollution, unhealthy living
Incidence of problems in newborns has nearly doubled in 15 years and experts say environment and unhealthy lifestyle choices are the culprits"

-This is the internet. Answer your questions for yourself instead of asking people here to do it for you.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.