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Millions of premature births could be linked to air pollution, study finds

The Guardian, UK

Published on 17 February 2017

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Johan C.I. Kuylenstierna

Reader / Research Leader

SEI York

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Mike Ashmore

Chris Malley

Senior Research Fellow

SEI York

This article presents new research by SEI York scientists and partners on links between preterm births and maternal exposure to outdoor air pollution. It quotes the lead author, Chris Malley, as well as SEI Policy Director Johan C.I. Kuylenstierna.

Air pollution could be a contributing factor in millions of premature births around the world each year, a new report has found. Nearly 15 million babies are born annually before reaching 37 weeks gestation. Premature birth is the leading cause of death among children younger than five years old, and can cause lifelong learning disabilities, visual and hearing problems, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports.

Researchers for the StockholmEnvironment Institute (SEI), the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the University of Colorado, have concluded that as many as 3.4 million premature births across 183 countries could be associated with fine particulate matter, a common air pollutant, with sub-Saharan Africa, north Africa and south and east Asia most impacted by the issue. [… ]

Previous studies have looked at how effects of air pollution in utero might negatively impact babies’ birth weight, or the likelihood that they will be born early. SEI’s study, which examined data from 2010, attempted to calculate how those factors might influence the global rate of premature births.

“By showing in our study that 18% of preterm births are associated with air pollution, we are quantifying the health impacts of fine particulate matter on babies before they are born,” said Chris Malley, a researcher in SEI’s York Centre, at the University of York and lead author on the study. …

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Source: The Guardian, UK
Language: English

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SEI York

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