Air Quality

Air pollution around conception tied to birth defects

A man wearing a respiratory protection mask walks toward an office building during the smog after a red alert was issued for heavy air pollution in Beijing’s central business district, China, December 21, 2016 (Credit: REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo)

COLUMBUS — “Women who breathe polluted air during the month right before or after they get pregnant may be more likely to have babies with birth defects, a U.S. recent study suggests.

Researchers examined data on birth defects for almost 290,000 infants born in Ohio from 2006 to 2010, matching these records with air pollution measurements near mothers’ homes.

They focused on what’s known as fine particulate matter, or PM 2.5, a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter that’s found in traffic exhaust and can include dust, dirt, soot, and smoke.

Higher levels of PM 2.5 exposure in the month before and after pregnancy were associated with a small but statistically meaningful increased risk of congenital birth defects, the study found.”

— Lisa Rapaport, Reuters

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