A joint study by an Israeli University (BGU) and Harvard University found that exposure to high air temperature during pregnancy increases the risk of lower birth weight. The implications for these findings during an era of climate change are tremendous as babies whose birth weight is low not only have decreased odds of survival, but also face increased risk of heart disease and diabetes, stunted growth, low I.Q. and other adverse health consequences. What can medical professionals do to help stem the tide of global warming? You can help patients and communities understand that caring about health means supporting climate solutions. You can communicate the health consequences of climate change and the urgent need to lead by example in everyday practices within your organizations and communities. You can support policies that will protect our well-being and nurture a healthy, clean energy future. And while climate change affects all people, more vulnerable individuals are put at even greater risk by climate-related health threats. Low birth-weight babies certainly fall within this category. Join Climate for Health and find out how to lead on climate action.
By Sarah Griffiths I June 15, 2015
A link between air temperature and birth weight has been discovered by researchers.
They have found that exposure to high temperatures during pregnancy increases the risk of giving birth to smaller babies.
The study could be seen to have worrying implications for pregnant women in heatwaves and hints that dramatic global warming may lead to less healthy babies in the long-term.
Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and Harvard University studied the relationship between birth weight and ambient air temperature during pregnancy in Massachusetts between 2000 and 2008.
‘We found that exposure to high air temperature during pregnancy increases the risk of lower birth weight and can cause preterm birth,' Dr. Itali Kloog of BGU said.
‘An increase of 8.5 °C (47.3°F) in the last trimester of average exposure was associated with a 17g (0.6 ounce) decrease in birth weight of babies born full term after adjusting for other potential risk factors,’ he said.
For the experiment, experts developed a ‘high resolution air temperature estimation model’ technique to predict daily air temperature in regions.
This helped scientists analyse how women were exposed to differing temperatures from the date of conception to the birth of their babies.
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