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Air Pollution Linked to Low Birth Weight, Premature Birth

By NIEHS
August 2005

A six-year study of more than 600,000 babies in Southern California revealed that pregnant women who were exposed to high levels of outdoor air pollution had a greater risk of low birth weight babies and premature births. Exposure to carbon monoxide and airborne particles yielded the greatest effects, according to the paper published in the August issue of Endocrinology.

These results suggest that the cumulative effects of these pollutants may impact fetal growth. Researchers know that babies born prematurely face a greater risk of respiratory distress, chronic lung disease, heart problems, bleeding in the brain, anemia, and retinopathy, an abnormal growth of blood vessels in the eye.

Effects of Carbon Monoxide and Particles on Southern Calif. Babies

Low Birth Weight Premature Births
High Exposure 30 per 1,000 births 107 per 1,000 births
Low Exposure 20 per 1,000 births 90 per 1,000 births


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