Having a new life within you is no less than a miracle, and this is the time when you are pre-occupied with all things that you think are essential to keep yourself and your baby hale and hearty.
Apart from having the right food, drinks, sleep routines, etc., there is one thing that has absolute importance when it comes to your baby’s health – and that is clean air. The importance of breathing clean air during pregnancy is often ignored.
It may come as a surprise to some, but inhaling impure air during pregnancy can pose great risks to both the mother and the unborn baby. Several research documents support this claim. (1)
What Are The Causes Of Air Pollution Around You?
If you think that air-Pollution is all about ozone depletion, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen-oxide emissions, dust, pollutants or chemical particles in smoke, then you may just be seeing the tip of the iceberg. The actual issues are much more deep-rooted.
Apart from all the above factors, there are many things around you, in your very homes that might be contributing to your baby’s ill health.
The paint on your wall, molds and pollen, asbestos insulation, barbeque equipment, daily cleaning products, room fresheners, tobacco (active/passive consumption) are only some such things that could very well add to the problem. (2)
Effects Of Air-Pollution
Some of the effects of air-pollution can be seen in the following symptoms:
- Congestion and stuffiness in the nose, repeated sneezing
- Wheezing and throat pain
- Rashes on the skin
- Irritation and itching in the eyes
- Nausea and headache
- Muscle weakness and fainting bouts in extreme cases
Effects Of Air-Pollution On Babies:
The effects of air-pollution on a baby’s health are dependent on factors like the intensity of pollution, duration of exposure to pollution, the pre-natal stage in which the baby was exposed to pollution and so on.
However, some proven side-effects of pollution on babies can’t be ignored and they are as follows:
1. Birth-Weight Lower Than The Normal Range
According to a global survey by World Health Organisation, Air Pollution can cause considerable damage to a newborn baby’s birth weight.
The study also talks about industrialized countries like China, where the high level of pollutants was correlated to restricted growth in babies, traces of pollutants in the placenta and a resultant rate of low birth weight. (3)
2. Premature Birth
A study has concluded that about 3.4 million pre-term births across 183 countries could be associated with air pollution. (4)
Pollution increases the number of toxic materials and chemicals in the air, and when they enter the mother’s blood, they affect her immune system.
This can cause damage to the placenta that supports a healthy fetus, which, in turn, leads to premature birth as well as future health complications in the baby. (5)
3. Autistic Traits
The biggest study done on the autism-pollution link shows that the possibility of autism in babies can as much as double if the mother is exposed to high concentrations of fine-particulate pollutants during her pregnancy, especially during the third trimester. (6)
4. Asthmatic Tendencies
A report in the European Respiratory Journal shows that when a pregnant woman is exposed to air pollution due to traffic, or increased nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide levels, the child is prone to developing asthma during his/her initial years.
This is true even for urban residential quarters with comparatively lower levels of pollution. (7)
5. Fertility Issues
Inhaling impure air can be detrimental to not just the babies, but for your own reproductive health as well.
There are studies, which have found how pollution negatively affects the fertility in young males and females and causes defects in reproductive functions of the body. (8)
How To Stay Safe From Air-Pollution?
Though you can’t eliminate the pollutants entirely from your surroundings, there are a few ways by which you can minimize being affected by them:
- Check the pollution levels in your area, and if they’re considerably high, for example, during festivals and celebrations, it’s better to avoid being outdoors.
- Get an air purifier. It not only tackles the outdoor pollutants, but also helps remove pollens, dust or chemical emissions found inside your home.
- Keep your home clean. Install carbon monoxide detectors, keep a check on the kitchen chimney services, use natural cleaners like vinegar, clean any traces of mold or mildew, etc.
- Prefer to stay indoors, especially in the third trimester. Even when the air looks okay, it may have millions of pollutants that your skin could absorb while you are out and about.
- Keep plants in the house that naturally purify the air by negating the effects of pollutants (9).
For a healthy baby, healthy air is very important. Do keep the above facts in mind during your pregnancy Give your baby the gift of good health and a robust immunity.
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