IRP study links air pollution to increase in newborn intensive care admissions
Infants born to women exposed to high levels of air pollution in the week before delivery are more likely to be admitted to a newborn intensive care unit (NICU), suggests an analysis by researchers at the National Institutes of Health. Depending on the type of pollution, chances for NICU admission increased from about 4% to as much as 147%, compared to infants whose mothers did not encounter high levels of air pollution during the week before delivery. The study was led by Pauline Mendola, Ph.D., of the Epidemiology Branch at NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. It appears in Annals of Epidemiology.
“Short-term exposure to most types of air pollutants may increase the risk for NICU admission,” Dr. Mendola said. “If our findings are confirmed, they suggest that pregnant women may want to consider limiting their time outdoors when air quality advisories indicate unhealthy conditions.”
Previous studies have linked elevated levels of certain kinds of air pollutants to higher risks for gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, a blood pressure disorder of pregnancy. Earlier research also has shown that infants born to women exposed to high levels of air pollutants are at risk for preterm birth, of being small for their gestational age at birth and of growing more slowly than normal in the uterus. Given these associations, the study authors sought to determine whether prenatal exposure to air pollution might increase the chance for NICU admission.
This page was last updated on Friday, January 21, 2022