SALT LAKE CITY – How much of an effect does the air pollution in Utah have on the unborn? Researchers from the University of Utah say the dirt in the skies is having a significant impact on the chances of miscarriage, and more expectant mothers need to be aware of the risks.
There have been a lot of studies that look into prolonged exposure to air pollution and the health of a fetus. However, Doctor Matthew Fuller says this study looked at how even short term exposure could affect a pregnancy.
“We found a 16 percent increased risk of miscarriage for patients who are exposed to a three to seven day period of poor air quality,” Fuller says.
The study looked at the effects of three different pollutants, namely ozone, PM2.5 and nitrogen dioxide. To their surprise, there was no correlation between ozone and heightened risk of miscarriage. There was a correlation between pregnancy problems and PM2.5, and Fuller says more research needs to be done.
However, he says nitrogen dioxide was the worst of the three, with a strong correlation between it and miscarriage.
Fuller feels there are a lot of expectant mothers who shy away from having a conversation about pollution and the health of their baby. Possibly because they feel there isn’t anything they can do, personally, to have a serious impact on the air during their pregnancy.
“This is why it’s a difficult conversation for somebody on a more personal level to have between and obstetrician and their patient,” Fuller adds.
There are ways Fuller says pregnant women can protect themselves from bad air. For instance, if you want to avoid breathing in fine particles, Fuller says, “You could limit your outdoor activities when pollution levels are high. You could wear an N95 mask that can limit the amount of PM 2.5 that you’re going to inhale.”
If you want to avoid breathing in nitrogen dioxide, Fuller recommends you install HEPA filters with carbon components that can filter out the gas.
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