A Low birth weight is regarded as 2.5 kg or 5.5 Ibs and 7.6% of US babies and 6% UK babies are recorded as being in this category.
Some of these babies are born prematurely – before 37 weeks and they may go on to be completely normal children and adults. Some of them are affected by high blood pressure or diabetes of other health issues of the mother.
Low birth weight, called LBW by the researchers, babies may have poorly developed lungs or brain or other organs, the variability depending on the cause and amount of the pollution and any other factors in the environment.
Factors such as polluted food such as mercury polluted fish
“Mercury is a known toxic heavy metal that can harm fetal growth and health, and there has been evidence showing that exposure to mercury (via consumption of large oily fish) during pregnancy may be related to higher risks of LBW in the offspring.” A link to the science research is here
The most obvious aggravating factor of course is smoking.
In this study traffic was the main contributor and living near high traffic shows up as a risk factor. The researchers even measured the circumference of the baby’s head they found smaller with increased pollution.
The pollution from traffic was compared to the effect on the baby of Mom smoking, so traffic pollution compares to cigarettes as far the baby is concerned.
The researchers speculated about how the vehicle exhausts actually exerted harm on the baby. They mentioned the effect of “pro-inflammatory mediators” in the blood and compared the situation to Mothers in the third world using fires with low quality fuel and breathing in the smoke produced.
In spite of this being a large study with 74, 178 women in 12 European countries the researchers were reluctant to make recommendations on how to reduce this hazard to the health of Mothers and babies in the future.
So what can you do – if you cannot move house and get cleaner air to breath for the whole family?
Outside the home – you can lobby. Whether as an individual or as a group and whether online or face to face, you can make a difference.
You can lobby government and the car companies. Even local government can alter traffic flow by re-routing traffic.
Inside the home you can investigate air purifiers – I’m thinking HEPA filters here and you can have air purifying plants in your home.
And inside your own body – since the problem in inflammation then the solution is to take good anti-inflammatory supplements like < and vitamin C and D. And for the diet to eat more vitamin rich vegetables and less meat.
We are not powerless against these huge problems; we can help ourselves and others too.
What will you do? Please comment below and share on Facebook!