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Air pollution increases chances of low birth-weight babies

A new study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives reveals that air pollution in towns and cities increases the chances of women giving birth to small babies. Pollution from particulate matter has been linked with up to a 10% risk increase of low-weight babies.

The study, the largest of its kind ever conducted and involving millions of births around the world found that higher pollution levels raised the risk of low birth-weight.

HEAL member, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) says this new study is very helpful in establishing another health impact of air pollution. As the average effect is fairly small, it needs enormous cross country studies such as these to quality the effect. The ever-present nature of particulate air pollution exposure poses a great public health concern and a greater risk of life-long effects of low birth weight on health.

The study focused on tiny particles called PM10 and smaller PM2.5 which are known to be linked to heart and lung diseases as well as early death. The particles originate from various sources including diesel exhausts, coal power plants and factory emissions.

Originally posted on 14 March 2013

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