Pregnancy is one of a woman's most beautiful and memorable milestones. Picking out names, shopping for baby clothes, finding out the gender — nothing will quite compare to this time.
It’s also a period that you take extra precautions to ensure that you deliver a healthy infant. You go for regular checkups and avoid certain kinds of foods and drinks. But have you ever thought of the effects of the air on you and your unborn child?
The unborn baby always depends on its mother for survival. Everything you consume — whether you eat it, drink it, or breathe it — can affect the fetus, including the air you breathe. Breathing polluted air will therefore affect your baby's development and your own health. Air pollution contributes to seven million deaths annually, and nearly 20% of deaths are newborns who die largely because of premature birth or low birth weight due to air pollution.
Research has shown that polluted air particles can reach the fetus through the placenta, affecting the placenta's health and the baby's development. Exposure to air pollution increases the risk of pregnancy complications such as miscarriage, low birth weight, preterm birth, asthma, and the baby's development in the future.
5 Ways Air Pollution Can Hurt Your Pregnancy
Air pollution is a threat to you and your unborn baby. The following are some of the ways air pollution can hurt your pregnancy.
1. Preterm Birth
Pregnant women living in areas with highly polluted air are at a higher risk of preterm birth. Preterm birth is when a baby is born before 37 weeks. According to the CDC, preterm birth can increase the likelihood of disability and death. Research says that air pollution might be contributing to the 15 million premature births annually. Children born before full term are at a considerable risk since they may experience neurological disorders, physical disabilities, and undeveloped lungs.
2. Low Birth Weight
The ideal birth weight is six to nine pounds, but the World Health Organization estimates that one in seven children globally is born with a low birth weight. When your baby weighs less than five pounds and eight ounces, it indicates low birth weight. Many factors can cause low birth weight, one being poor air quality. Air pollution may hamper your baby's growth, causing them to be born at extremely low birth weight.
Low birth weight can lead to developmental delays and numerous health issues for your child.
Air pollution can increase the risk of asthma for the mother and her unborn child. Women constantly exposed to polluted air during pregnancy are more likely to give birth to children with asthma.
One study was done on children whose mothers were exposed to air pollution during pregnancy from birth until they were 10 years old. The findings revealed that children whose mothers were exposed to air pollution during pregnancy had higher chances of developing asthma during their first five years.
Autism is a neurological and developmental disorder that affects people's socialization and communication skills. According to the CDC, 1 in 68 children is identified with an autism spectrum disorder. In addition, according to a Harvard study, pregnant women who live in areas with high levels of particulate matter, especially during the third trimester of the pregnancy, are highly likely to give birth to an autistic child.
5. Fertility Issues
High levels of air pollution can increase the risk of infertility. More specifically, a recent study indicates that polluted air can affect the quality of semen in men. Exposure to high particulate matter can also lead to miscarriages and stillbirths.
How Can You Protect Yourself During Pregnancy?
A mother and her unborn child need good air quality. This cannot be argued. However, indoor and outdoor air is full of pollutants, making it impossible to breathe quality air 100% of the time.
While it’s true that you can’t completely control the air you breathe, you can take important steps to protect yourself from the negative effects of pollution during pregnancy.
1. Pay Attention to Air Quality Reports
Use the information on Airnow.gov to know whether it's safe to spend time outdoors and when to stay indoors.
2. Stay Safe During Wildfire Season
If you live in an area with a higher likelihood of wildfires, you might consider evacuating to a safer place before the season starts. If you can’t, keep your windows closed if there are wildfires nearby and open the doors to your house as little as possible.
3. Don’t Linger Near High-Traffic Areas
Particulate matter is always higher in areas with heavy traffic. Whether it’s a casual stroll or an outdoor workout, avoid heavy-traffic spots.
4. Use an Air Purifier
An air purifier is one of the best ways of keeping your indoor air clean. You can even keep one in your baby’s room once they’re born. Ensure that you use an air purifier with a medical-grade HEPA 13 filter and an activated carbon filter. The Sans air purifier has a three-stage filtration process (pre-filter, medical-grade HEPA 13 filter, and activated carbon filter) and UV-C light to ensure optimal air purification.
5. Clean Your House Frequently
Cleaning your house regularly helps remove particles that can cause allergies, respiratory issues, and other negative reactions. Vacuum your house regularly to remove dust and dust mites that can build up in your carpets and bedding. Wipe damp surfaces in your house to prevent the growth of mold, and wash your bedding at least once a week — more if you allow pets to sleep in the bed.
6. Avoid Cigarette Smoke
Pregnant women and their unborn children face significant health risks from air pollution. Although it’s hard to control the air that you breathe, there are measures you can take to protect yourself and your baby during pregnancy. Sans is here to help. Shop now and enjoy a healthy pregnancy.