China smog harms unborn babies, studies show

April 30, 2015 09:54
China's toxic smog impairs the functioning of the placenta during pregnancy, new study suggests. Photo: Bloomberg

China's air pollution might be impairing the functioning of the placenta in pregnant women, leading to adverse effects on new-born babies, according to latest research.

A study of women who were pregnant during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, when the city curbed car traffic and halted many industrial plants in surrounding provinces, show their babies had significantly higher birth weights than those born the year before or after, Financial Times reported.

The study, which was led by David Rich at the University of Rochester Medical Center along with scientists at Capital Medical University in Beijing, showed that mothers in their third trimester living in Beijing during the Olympic Games delivered bigger babies, the report said. 

On average, babies born soon after the Olympics were 23 grams heavier than those born in 2007 or 2009, the study found.

The authors suggested air pollution might impair the functioning of the placenta.

Another study, led by Zhengmin Qian of the Saint Louis University School of Health, found that higher levels of particulate matter in the air corresponded with more preterm deliveries.

The study was based on data pertaining to 95,911 babies born between 2011 and 2013 in Wuhan, an industrial city located on the Yangtze River in central China.

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