When you are pregnant or you start planning you already start to take care and avoid substances you are aware can harm your unborn children, such as certain foods and drugs. However, other things, like the air we breathe, cannot be ignored or controlled.
Ozone, chemical fumes, car exhaust, and secondhand smoke are some of the common air pollutants that can harm the heart and lungs as well as irritate the eyes and cause coughing and shortness of breath.
Studies based on air quality are difficult to conduct and they frequently assign exposure depending on a person’s address. Additionally, it is impossible for researchers to determine the precise contaminants that a person inhaled or the duration of their exposure. Therefore, it is essential that experts and decision-makers who seek to improve public health are aware of how many elements of various types of air pollution and their corresponding biological reactions affect fetal development.
Millions of residents of some metropolitan cities are in danger of developing breathing problems due to poor air quality. Pregnant women, children, persons over the age of 65, and those with chronic diseases like diabetes, asthma, heart conditions, and lung disease are at a higher risk. There is also evidence to suggest that air pollution can affect unborn babies.
In this Article
- 1 Air Pollution And Pregnancy
Air Pollution And Pregnancy
Much research has been done to ascertain the effect of pollution on pregnancy. Millions of people worldwide die as a result of air pollution. It is primarily responsible for 20% of newborn mortality worldwide, which is primarily caused by preterm birth and low birth weight. According to recent research, exposure to air pollution during pregnancy may result in preterm births and health issues for both the mother and the baby.
According to research, preterm birth and low birth weight, which are problems for public health because they greatly raise the risk of child mortality and developmental abnormalities, can be caused by prenatal exposure to pollutants. According to recent research, children’s IQ levels and brain development may be negatively impacted by exposure to high levels of air pollution.
Secondhand smoke, carbon monoxide, fumes from paint and home cleansers, particulate matter, and ozone are some contaminants to be concerned about. Pregnant women, new moms, and women of childbearing age should be aware of the risks that indoor and outdoor air pollution poses to developing fetuses and young children.
Additionally, research indicates that higher levels of air pollution exposure cause improper lung development, higher newborn mortality rates, and inflammation in the mother. According to a 2019 study, exposure to particulate air pollutants is linked to first-trimester pregnancy loss.
Many pediatricians think that the health of children could be negatively impacted by the air quality in the long run. According to one study, children who were exposed to air pollutants while they were still developing were more likely to grow up to be obese. Early pollution exposure may potentially play a role in the emergence of immunological conditions like asthma.
Delhi’s Poor Air Quality And Pregnancy
The high concentrations of contaminants in the air are a serious worry in Delhi, one of the world’s most polluted cities. High amounts of air pollution might be harmful to pregnant women.
Unbearable fog has engulfed Delhi and the regions around it and won’t let up. Everyone is coughing, which is understandable, and the noxious air is also irritating their throats and spreading viral illnesses. People with asthma, cardiovascular problems, and pregnant women, who are at higher risk, have it worse.
Nitrate, sulfate, black carbon, and aluminum are among the contaminants in Delhi’s air that intensify asthma attacks, make breathing difficult, and may bring out other health problems as well. Although the effects of our current exposure to air pollution may not be felt right away, we will have to deal with them in the long term and they may have a lasting effect.
In Delhi, each of us will undoubtedly come into contact with one or more of these pollutants:
- Automobile emissions
- Smoke from burning garbage
- If we reside on the borders of the city, crop-burning smoke
- Emissions from coal and gas-powered power plants
Perhaps the issue wouldn’t be as serious if the cause of the pollution was restricted to just one of these elements. A brief reality check, though, is alarming.
Each one of these pollutants helps to create Particulate Matter (PM 2.5 and PM 10), which can seriously affect our bodies. PM 2.5 is particularly dangerous since it can settle deep within our lungs, eventually causing them to deteriorate. Particulate matter can also have an impact on a developing baby’s brain and behavior.
Inhaling 22 micrograms per cubic meter of contaminated air is similar to smoking a cigarette. Therefore, the impact is still negative whether the PM2.5 level is 700 or 300 units.
Nowadays, even short-term exposure to air pollution may lead to hospitalization. In Delhi-NCR today, pregnant women who unknowingly smoke or breathe polluted air have an increased risk of IUGR, preterm birth, and pregnancy-related hemorrhage, among other complications.
Effects Of Air Pollution On Pregnancy
Pregnancy and air pollution may have the following effects:
Living in a polluted location may increase the risk of premature labor for pregnant people. Preterm labor raises the risk of further issues like low birth weight, a baby with underdeveloped lungs, and a baby who dies during or soon after birth. The consequences of common pollutants like ozone, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and nitrogen dioxide were examined in a 2019 study. Preterm labor and air pollution were found to be related. The next pregnancy carried the greatest risk.
The term “stillbirth” describes the infant’s demise after 20 weeks of pregnancy. One 2018 study found a link between air pollution exposure and stillbirth. The third trimester of pregnancy was when the risk was at its maximum.
Low birth weight
A baby’s growth may be hampered by exposure to air pollution, which could result in an extremely tiny birth weight. Developmental delays, a host of health problems, and postpartum mortality are all risks associated with low birth weight. A higher prevalence of some pollutants, such as nitrogen dioxide, corresponded with a higher risk of low birth weight, according to a 2013 review of 14 population-level studies. This suggests a possible link between pregnancy and air quality, though it does not show that pollution causes low birth weight.
Issues with Lung development
Lung development may be impacted by air pollution exposure. In some infants, this happens incidentally when premature labor results in the birth of a child with impaired lung function. This raises the possibility of death following birth. Long-term respiratory conditions including asthma and allergies are also associated with air pollution exposure.
Air pollution is associated with an increased risk of pregnancy-related problems in the parent. Preeclampsia and high blood pressure risk were found to be elevated by exposure to air pollution in the first trimester in a study of birth outcomes. These complications may result in an early delivery because they can endanger both the mother and the child.
Tips To Limit Air Pollution Effects On Pregnancy
The news is bad in Delhi, and it will take time to put measures into effect citywide. The fact is that because particulate matter is present everywhere, we are surrounded by air pollution even while we are inside our houses. Since there is typically little difference between indoor and outdoor PM levels, we aren’t even safe inside our houses.
In a perfect world, pregnant women would be able to relocate to a more healthy, environmentally friendly area. Moving is not the most friendly decision, despite the advice of certain professionals.
But we can make a few small adjustments and lessen the effect of pollution on pregnancy by trying to improve the air quality:
- Avoid the early morning walk.
You should postpone your early morning walks unless you live close to a park away from the main roadways. In Delhi, early morning and late evening are when the air quality is worse, so limit your outdoor time. Try to stroll around midday, if you can.
- Put on a Mask
Wearing a mask is a simpler action to take in a city like Delhi than waiting for the air pollution levels to decrease. Additionally, masks are typically successful in removing pollutants from the air we breathe. Purchase an N99 or N95 mask, and make sure it fits your face securely.
- Buy an air purifier.
Although certified HEPA air filters may capture air contaminants with a nearly 100% effectiveness rate, they can be expensive and necessitate some family debate. To make your home safer, if you can extend your reach, think about buying an air purifier.
- Regular monitoring of the air quality index
On a daily basis, check the local air quality forecasts on a reliable source AQI website or mobile app. By taking an air quality monitor with you on your commute or exercise routes, you may get a sense of the high-pollution zones in your community. Additionally, you may monitor pollution levels at various times of the day and along various routes.
- Eat healthy & nutritious foods.
Eat meals high in magnesium, fruits high in vitamin C, and foods high in omega-3. A healthy diet can help you battle the ill effects of pollution by preserving your immunity. Vitamins A, C, and E help the body heal itself and stop inflammation brought on by toxins or pollution.
- Grow Indoor air purifying plants
Aloe vera, ivy, and spider plants, among others, can be utilized in both the home and the office as air purifying plants. They contribute to decreasing the indoor contaminants and the purification of indoor air. These indoor plants don’t require frequent watering, direct sunlight, or a substantial amount of oxygen, making them low maintenance.
- Check your personal hygiene and cleaning materials.
Several of your favorite household items could produce volatile organic compounds even while not in use (VOCs). It is recommended to switch to low- or no-VOC products and to avoid items with fragrances, irritants, or combustible materials. High-VOC products should be kept out of the house or in a storage room when not in use.
- Keep sufficient ventilation.
Keep sufficient ventilation in place. Make sure there is a chimney in the kitchen and an exhaust in the bathroom to prevent indoor air pollution. The air will be recirculated as a result. Between 3 and 5 in the afternoon, open your windows and doors to let some fresh air in. This period of time is when the concentration of PM 2.5 is at its lowest on a bright sunny day.
- Take steam regularly
Try to take steam every day in the evening with a few drops of eucalyptus oil to relax your airways and assist your body in eliminating dangerous particulates. This is a natural treatment that spares your child’s developing health from chemical-based medications.
- The no-smoking rule
This requires you to keep your surroundings smoke-free. Neither you should smoke nor allow anyone else to smoke inside. Before entering the residence, request that smokers change their clothes.
- Become active and knowledgeable.
Consider sponsoring initiatives to study the effects of air pollution on prenatal health after learning about the implications of air pollution on public health. Consider how you contribute to air pollution, then take steps to improve your home’s energy efficiency.
- Can I use cleaning products during pregnancy?
Never mix cleaning products since the fumes could be dangerous. For instance, mixing ammonia with chlorine bleach can produce extremely dangerous chloramine gas. Consider utilizing alternate cleaners. Pregnant women should only use cleaning solutions in well-ventilated locations, wearing protective gloves. Greasy pots, pans, and ovens can be scrubbed with baking soda; counters and other surfaces can be cleaned with vinegar and water.
- What is PM, or particulate matter?
Simply said, Particulate Matter, or PM, is the term used to refer to all airborne particles. Smaller particles generated from vehicle emissions, cigarette smoke, and other sources are not visible, but larger particles like dust are easily seen.
Whether you can see these particles or not, they are nevertheless harmful to our bodies. Furthermore, the smaller the particle size, the greater the penetration of it into our bodies.
- What precautions should I take if I want to paint the Nursery?
Painting a nursery may expose you to harmful toxins. Always read the label for instructions and safety information before using any product. In any room that is being painted or has recently been painted, fully open the windows and doors. – Install a box fan in the window so that the air and odors are directed outside. Keep the fan running throughout the painting process and for about 48 hours after. Use a fan to move and exhaust air away from the work area if the room is windowless. Leave the doors open.
Pregnant women and their unborn children both face substantial health risks from air pollution. Additionally, it might interact with other risk factors, escalating the danger for the most vulnerable families. If you are worried or experience persistent or recurrent symptoms on days with low air quality, consult your doctor. You and your unborn child’s health can be impacted by a variety of circumstances, however air pollution exposure can be reduced. You can keep yourself and your child healthier by taking a few easy precautions to stay away from polluted air.