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Air pollution could adversely effect health of newborns, claims study

New Delhi: Breathing polluted not only affects lungs, but could cause abnormality in the fetus, revealed a new study on the association between air pollution and birth defects.
The study, conducted by scientists at Indian Council of Medical Research, found that pregnant women exposed to persistently high air pollution face high risk of giving birth to underweight babies.
It also found that every 10 microgram per cubic metre increase in the concentrations of particulate matter below 2.5 microns (i.e. PM2.5) lowered birth weight by four grams.
The findings of the study underline the need to add maternal exposure to PM 2.5 as a risk factor for low birth weight, alongside traditional ones such as maternal nutrition and health.
Doctors assert that the effect of PM2.5 on birth weight is a curvilinear association, meaning it does not always increase at higher and higher concentrations of PM2.5.
The study also found each 10 point increase in persistent exposure to PM2.5 concentrations had an even prominent impact on the birth weight of premature babies – a 28 g decrease.
"The same inflammatory pathways through which air pollution can cause respiratory distress or cardiovascular disorders also act on the placenta," said a doctor involved in the study.
He added that placental insufficiency can choke nutrition supply to the fetus and influence birth weight.
Dr SP Byotra of Sir Ganga Ram Hospital said, "In urban settings, it is poor ventilation, dust, mites, pollens and other trapped irritants that make the air quality extremely unhealthy for breathing."
"Children, pregnant women, elderly and people with respiratory condition suffer most due to it. Good air quality inside can be maintained to certain extent by proper ventilation, planting indoor plants, using air purifiers and other dust control methods," he added.
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