During pregnancy, the focus can sometimes be on what you should be consuming in terms of foods and prenatal vitamins, but equally important is what you are breathing in! The quality of air has an impact on the health of the pregnant woman and the fetus. Even if you are not a smoker, research has shown that living in a polluted city is equivalent to smoking everyday!
Air pollution is linked to adverse effects on the pregnant women as well as their unborn fetus.
Here is what you need to know about air quality, risks, and how you can avoid breathing unhealthy air while carrying your baby.
Potential risks of exposure to air pollution during pregnancy:
- Preterm birth: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), preterm birth or the birth of a baby before 37 weeks is one of the leading causes of infant mortality in the United States. Children born before term have a significant risk of neurological disorders and permanent physical disabilities.
- Low birth weight –The APA (American Pregnancy association), has estimated that one in every 12 babies in America is born underweight.
- Exposure to air pollution during pregnancy has been linked to low birth weight.
- Autism: Women who were exposed to high particulate matter in the third trimester were twice as likely to deliver a child with autism (especially if they lived in areas with high traffic) as per a study by Harvard University.
- Stillbirth -Stillbirth refers to the death of the baby late in pregnancy, after 20 weeks. Studies have established a connection between air pollution and stillbirth, with the risk being the highest in the third trimester.
- Lung development: Studies show that exposure to air pollution can impact lung development. This can happen in babies which are preterm whose lungs are not fully functional to be born. It can also cause long-term respiratory issues like asthma and allergies because particulate matter pollution can breach the placenta. Asthma can cause preeclampsia in pregnant women. It is a condition that causes high blood pressure and decreased function of the liver and the kidneys. If asthma is left untreated, it can result in lack of oxygen which can lead to poor growth, premature birth, and low birth weight.
- Fertility issues: Research suggests that Air pollution has a detrimental effect on fertility rates in both men and women.
Top Tips to protect yourself from Air pollution while pregnant.
- Smoking: Stay away from smokers and ask other members of your household to go out if they must smoke.
- Check your Air Quality Index- Avoid outdoor exercises or walks when air pollution levels are high. Check radio, newspapers, and television reports to stay updated on your neighborhood's air quality.
- Pick roads and routes which have less traffic when walking around.
- Contaminants can come into your homes through cooking, wood burning, hair sprays and paint. Use a vent hood/ exhaust fans when cooking.
- Stay indoors-Pregnant women share everything with the fetus- from what they eat, drink, breathe and touch. So, it is important that you stay indoors when the air pollution levels are high.
- Perfumes, fragrances, cologne, and cleaners contain toxic materials, and you should avoid using them.
- Always choose products which are non-toxic.
- Invest in an Air purifier- The American Pregnancy Association recommends the use of an air purifier to remove a wide variety of toxins, chemicals, mold, microorganisms, and VOC’s. According to a study from Simon Fraser University, it was found that, pregnant women who used HEPA air purifiers at their homes were less likely to give birth to underweight babies.
“The more pristine the environment for the fetus, the healthier the growth”. Helder Pedro
President of Airpura
What do the studies say?
- One study conducted in Beijing, China, found a link between low birth weight and air pollution. The study found that during the Olympics in China, the city was mandated to lower emissions and improve air quality. It was found that women who gave birth during this time delivered babies who were heavier.
- Another study in China showed that women who were exposed to higher levels of pollution showed an increased risk of experiencing early miscarriage.
- Another studyshowed links between a woman’s exposure to certain air particles during pregnancy and a baby’s risk of preterm birth or low birth weight.
Best Air purifier for Pregnant women:
Viruses, bacteria, mold, chemicals, and particles go through 3 levels of filtration for complete removal of airborne microorganisms such influenza and gastro. Airpura 's 18 lbs of custom blended activated carbon adsorbs chemicals, VOC's, gases, and odors while a medical grade True HEPA filter provides powerful particle reduction of 99.97% of particulate matter as small as 0.3 microns Including PM2.5, pollen, dust, dander.