In this article we will tell you more about how pollution affects during pregnancy and what to do to avoid its negative consequences.

Are you pregnant and do you suspect that the pollution in your city may affect your baby? You are right: according to several studies, the fact that the mother is exposed to high levels of environmental pollution can affect the fetus and the development of the baby . Some research even suggests that it could have repercussions on your adult life as well.

Pollution and pregnancy, is there a correlation?

Pollution affects the development of the baby during pregnancy. The medical journal Environmental Health Perspectives published a study that indicates this. The researchers of that study analyzed data from 3 million babies in Europe, Africa, Asia and America, comparing the levels of air pollution .

It was concluded that emissions from heating, factories and vehicles directly influence the weight of babies at birth . Thus, there is a correlation between the baby’s weight and pollution: the numbers of babies born with less than 2.5 kg are higher in areas with poorer air quality.

For their part, researchers from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health ( ISGlobal ) have determined that pollution affects babies from the womb: the finest polluting particles are inhaled by the mother and transferred to the fetus . Specifically, soot, which is capable of reaching the baby through the placenta. They have reached this conclusion thanks to the BiSC project , the Barcelona Life Study Cohort, which has the collaboration of ISGlobal, BCNatal (Hospitals Sant Joan de Déu and Hospital Clínic) and the Hospital de Sant Pau.

But it is not the only study that reaches the same conclusions: other research carried out by experts from the University of Hasselt, Belgium, agree that, indeed, the smallest contaminating particles cross the placenta. And, just as it is already known that nicotine, alcohol or other drugs reach the baby through the placenta, these studies reveal that contamination reaches the fetus similarly.

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Effects of pollution in childhood and adulthood

These studies confirm that pollution affects pregnancy, but what repercussions does this have on your future, on your childhood and on your adult life? Mainly, there are three:

  • Limitations in cognitive development
  • Weight problems
  • Breathing problems and asthma

Limits in cognitive development

In the “Breathe” project, ISGlobal researchers came to the conclusion that there are important differences in the cognitive development of children depending on the level of pollution in the place where they live. With high rates of pollution, brain capacities suffer.

In this sense, a study by the Center for Research in Environmental Epidemiology ( CREAL ) in Barcelona highlights that pollution influences working memory, information retention and attention span .

Weight problems

Payam Dadvand, CREAL researcher and participant in the study “Maternal Exposure to Air Pollution by Particles and Full-term Birth Weight: A Multinational Evaluation of Effect and Heterogeneity”, declares the importance of this issue. Dadvand, regarding the relationship between environmental pollution and baby’s weight , comments that “low birth weight is associated with serious health consequences, including an increased risk of perinatal morbidity and mortality and chronic health problems. in adulthood “.

Breathing problems and asthma

According to the World Health Organization ( WHO ), approximately 93% of people under 15 years of age breathe air in poor conditions , polluted air. This fact causes children to develop respiratory diseases such as asthma , but it also affects lung capacity. The same WHO has revealed that some 600,000 children died in 2016 due to respiratory infections due to pollution.

And it is that children, because of their height, are closer to the exhaust pipes of cars and, therefore, closer to harmful emissions. In fact, the Global Center for Clean Air Research at the University of Surrey, England, found that children are 60% more exposed to pollution than adults .

It is not surprising that children are more prone to diseases related to pollution, since their body is in full development, but so is their immune system.

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What to do to avoid the influence of pollution during pregnancy?

If we talk about tobacco or alcohol, the solution is simple: stop consuming these substances is enough so that they do not pass through the fetus. But what about pollution? How to avoid breathing noxious air? Some tips that could be carried out are:

  • If it is possible to pass the pregnancy in a less contaminated area , the better.
  • Do not have the windows open if we are near roads or streets with a lot of traffic.
  • The  masks Surgical make avoid inhaling pollution. 
  • Choose streets with little traffic or areas where not too many vehicles circulate. Only the fact of choosing a street parallel to the main one, more traveled by cars, reduces pollution by 53%: this is determined by a study by Kings’ College of the University of London.
  • Choose to walk or go outside at times of the day with less traffic.
  • Avoid the so-called “urban canyons”. These are streets with tall buildings on both sides: this architecture causes these environments to trap pollution.
  • Download mobile applications about pollution. There are apps that indicate the level of pollution in your city. It is advisable to check how the air is before leaving and try to do so when the app determines lower levels.
  • Exercising indoors or outdoors whenever it is in times of low pollution or in areas with less pollution such as parks, countryside, mountains, beach, etc. When you do some physical activity, your breathing speeds up, so even more toxic substances are breathed in.

There are many studies from different universities and research institutes in various parts of the world that conclude that pollution can not only affect the development of the fetus during pregnancy, but can also do so during childhood and even in adulthood . It is important to follow the recommendations of the experts and avoid being exposed to polluted air to avoid the negative influence it exerts on the baby’s health.

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