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

urban air
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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.


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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.

Journal information: Journal of Pediatrics

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Citation: Study suggests air pollution breathed in the months before and after conception increases chance of birth defects (2018, January 8) retrieved 26 August 2019 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-01-air-pollution-months-conception-chance.html
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User comments

Jan 08, 2018
Unless family incomes, alcohol and drug usage are also factored into the study it is meaningless.

Jan 08, 2018
Do poor people live in more polluted areas, yes. This study could have just as well proven that pollution causes poverty.

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.

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.

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.

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