There air pollution was already known for its deleterious effects on health: respiratory problems, cancers… But it also has harmful consequences on pregnancies. Thus, a recent study carried out at the University of California and published in the journal PLOS Medicine attributes 6 million premature births and 15 million newborn deaths each year worldwide to air quality.
The researchers say they studied 108 research articles on the issue conducted in a total of 204 countries. The objective was to understand on the one hand what could explain the births of premature babies, but also to understand where the underweight of 3 million babies per year could come from.
The indoor air problem
They came to the conclusion that outdoor air pollution played a significant role in the face of prematurity and the problem of weight. But she would not be solely responsible: indoor air pollution, in homes, could also explain it. They take the example of Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa where the habitats are equipped with solid combustion stoves, coal and wood. And point out that in 2019, two thirds of the pollution that had an impact on pregnancies could be directly linked to it.
If there is nothing surprising in the fact that air pollution can play a harmful role on pregnancy, the study underlines that a significant part of the deaths resulting from it could be avoided, if the quality of the air in homes was of better quality. By improving the latter both inside and out, births of underweight and premature babies could reduce by 78%.
Source : Ambient and household PM2.5 pollution and adverse perinatal outcomes: A meta-regression and analysis of attributable global burden for 204 countries and territories, PLOS Medicine, September 28, 2021.
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