In this latest study, researchers from Tel Aviv University add new evidence on the dangers of air pollution, finding a significantly increased risk of congenital malformations in the offspring of mothers exposed to high levels of certain pollutants.
“Our results suggest that exposure to higher levels of air pollution during pregnancy is associated with various adverse pregnancy outcomes,” said Prof. Lerner-Geva. “While our study mainly followed SC infants, we also had the opportunity to assess a small sample of pregnancies that were conceived through ART, and observed a higher impact of air pollution – particularly with regard to ozone exposure. This is clearly a uniquely susceptible population that should be further explored.”
Analysis links pollution to defects
For the study, funded by the Environmental Health Fund (EHF), the research team analyzed data on 216,730 infants born in Israel between 1997 and 2004. Air pollution data, including levels of sulfur dioxide (SO2), particulate matter (PM10), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and ozone (O3), were obtained from air monitoring stations for the study period. Using a geographic information system, exposure to air pollution during both the first trimester and the entire pregnancy was assessed for each woman according to her place of residence.
The researchers found that exposure to PM10 and NOX pollutants throughout full-term pregnancies were associated with an increased risk of congenital malformations, with specific defects evident in the circulatory system (from PM10 and NOX exposure) and genital organs (from NOX exposure). They also discovered that exposure to SO2 and O3 in ART pregnancies were associated, although not significantly, with a higher risk of congenital defects.
“Considering the worldwide decline in fertility, and the increasing number of children born through ART treatments, our findings about their increased risk of congenital malformations are very relevant,” said Prof. Lerner-Geva. “It is essential we continue to evaluate this unique population.”
According to Prof. Lerner-Geva, a national ART registry has been established in Israel to provide important data on all ART cycles. This database will serve as a basis for a future larger study to identify susceptible subpopulations at higher risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes. Prof. Lerner-Geva is currently engaged in a more detailed assessment of environmental exposure during pregnancy.
FILED UNDER AIR POLLUTION, BIRTH DEFECTS, BIRTH OUTCOMES, BRAIN DEVELOPMENT, CHILD DEVELOPMENT, CLIMATE CHANGE EFFECTS, CONGENITAL DEFECTS, ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH, ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION, FETAL DEVELOPMENT, FINE PARTICULATE MATTER, HARMFUL POLLUTANTS, MATERNAL HEALTH, MEDICAL NEWS, MEDICAL RESEARCH, OZONE, PARTICULATE MATTER, PREGNANCY COMPLICATIONS, PRENATAL DEVELOPMENT, PSYCHIATRIC DISORDERS, PUBLIC HEALTH, PUBLIC HEALTH NEWS, PUBLIC HEALTH RESEARCH, REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH, TOXIC POLLUTANTS, WOMEN’S HEALTH