For many years, experts have examined the effects of pollution on pregnancy and the possible negative consequences of pollution on expecting moms and their newborns. Unfortunately, the prognosis is becoming worse with each discovery. This article goes over a few things every expecting mother should know about air quality, pollution, and how to reduce or prevent breathing in hazardous air during pregnancy.
What Is Air Pollution?
There are several types of air pollution. Building emissions, dust, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, second-hand smoking, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, vehicle exhaust, and chemicals are common components of contaminated air. Air pollution may affect you whether you live in the city or the country.
Are Expecting Moms at Risk from Harmful Air?
- Inflammation of the eyes and sinuses
- Respiratory disorders such as asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema
- Chronic exhaustion
- Shortness of breath and decreased lung capacity
- Lung and heart damage
Although air pollution is harmful to all living things, expecting moms, newborns, children, individuals with respiratory disorders, and elderly individuals are particularly vulnerable.
The Risks of Air Pollution for Expecting Moms
Ongoing research continues to uncover the harmful impacts of pollution on expecting moms. Here are some of the most severe impacts every expecting mom should be aware of.
Newborn Birth Weight
The healthiest pregnancies are when the expecting mom delivers after 39 weeks of pregnancy, with the baby weighing anywhere from 6 – 9 pounds. Babies born before 38 weeks or weighing less than 6 pounds are considered a low birth rate. Unfortunately, one out of every twelve babies born in the United States is born at a low birth rate. While there are various reasons a baby is born underweight, exposure to pollution during pregnancy is thought to be one source of this issue.
An intriguing research study performed in Beijing, one of the most polluted cities in the world, made significant gains in linking air pollution to newborn infant weight at birth. Researchers observed pregnant women in Beijing in 2008 over two months when the city was under a mandate to improve air quality by reducing emissions. The study results discovered that women in the middle of their third trimester gave birth to heavier infants, 0.8 ounces, during the emissions reduction period than babies born one year prior. Although it is unclear which week, month, or trimester is most sensitive to the impacts of pollution, the study remains compelling.
According to the University of York, in a research study performed by The Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), air pollution causes roughly 3 million preterm births annually. This indicates that particulate matter pollution has been connected to 18% of all yearly preterm births. Children that are born before their gestational due date are at a higher risk of neurological abnormalities and lasting physical impairments. While preterm delivery can occur for various reasons, one that you should aim to minimize is air pollution.
Autism and Moms to Be
According to a startling Harvard research study, women who were exposed to high levels of particulate matter pollution in their third trimester were two times more likely to have a child who is autistic. This was even more prevalent in expecting moms living near a major highway. However, it’s worth noting that the study also discovered that pregnant women who were exposed to the same harmful amounts of particulate matter early in pregnancy had no increased chance of delivering an autistic child.
Asthma and Expecting Moms
Asthma is exacerbated by air pollution, which can be problematic for women that are pregnant. This is because asthma can lead to preeclampsia, a disease characterized by high blood pressure and impaired liver and kidney function. However, if the expecting mom manages her asthma, mother and child are generally fine. On the other hand, Untreated or out-of-control asthma might cause the mother or child to suffer from a shortage of oxygen, resulting in poor growth, early birth, and low birth weight. According to research, air pollution can also boost your baby’s risk of having asthma when they get older since particulate matter pollution breaches the placenta.
If you are planning on starting a family or growing your family, it is vital to take every precaution regarding the air you breathe. Several studies have found that air pollution contributes to reduced fertility rates for women and men. In addition, some studies link air pollution to miscarriage.
Tips for Expecting Moms to Protect Against Air Pollution
It is impossible to eliminate every potential hazard to you and your baby’s health, but there are many things you can do to help reduce exposure to harmful pollutants.
Check Air Quality Index Daily
The World Health Organization concluded in 2014 that 92 percent of the world’s population lives in areas with poor air quality. Even though the air appears to be clean, it may be polluted. Check your zip code’s air quality index data every day as a safety measure. It will provide you with information on particle pollution for the day, helping you make educated decisions.
Use High MERV Rated Filters
Outdoor air pollution isn’t the only issue expecting moms should be concerned with either. According to the EPA, Americans spend up to 90% of their time indoors, where pollution levels are five times greater than outside. Using air filters with a high MERV rating can help keep the air in your home clean. High-quality filters can help clean your air, removing smoke, allergens, mold, bacteria, viruses, VOCs, dust, dander, and more, allowing you and your unborn child to thrive in a more healthy environment.
Pregnant Moms Should Protect Their Skin
Your skin is the largest organ of your body. It absorbs between 60 and 100% of anything it touches. Women that are pregnant share everything they eat, drink, and breathe with their unborn child. Even if you use a mask, outdoor air pollution such as particle matter will impact your skin. For example, if the weather forecast indicates that the air quality index has a high pollution level, you are better off staying indoors.
Purchase Air-Purifying Plants
Plants are unique natural air filters that help create an environment with cleaner air. Certain types of plants, like snake plants, can help remove VOCs from the air and replace carbon dioxide with clean oxygen. Consider purchasing oxygenating plants for your home. It is recommended to have a ratio of 1 plant per 100 square feet to help keep the air clean.
Protecting Our Future
There is a delicate balance when it comes to expecting moms to ensure their health and the health of their unborn child. Air pollution is one factor that expecting moms should avoid at all costs. Fortunately, we can all help reduce and avoid pollution to keep our families safe. At Filti, our mission is to provide products that help clean the air to protect you and your family. Our nanofiber technology air filters can trap up to 95% of harmful air particulates, such as viruses, bacteria, VOCs, and much more. For more information on our filter products visit our online store. Stay safe and breathe in clean air with Filti air filters.