Birth defects linked to air pollution
Previous studies have linked air pollution to chronic and acute health conditions, now a new study from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine has linked air pollution to birth defects.
In a study called “Periconception Exposure to Air Pollution and Risk of Congenital Malformations“ published in The Journal of Pediatrics, researchers examined data on birth defects for 290,000 babies born in Ohio between 2009 and 2010.
Measurements of PM2.5 particulates were taken near the homes of mothers involved in the study, the scientists recorded that when a mother is exposed to higher levels of PM2.5 particulates in the month prior to and after conception her foetus is more likely to have a birth defect, even after adjusting for other known factors. The most common defects associated with air pollution were found to be abdominal malformations and hypospadias (when the urethral opening is located on the underside of the penis or scrotum).
The study found that for mothers who lived within 5km of a monitoring station, every 10ug/m3 increase in PM2.5 levels during the month after conception, meant their babies were 19% more likely to be born with birth defects.