A recent study has found that air pollution is linked to low birth weight. The study was conducted on 74,000 mothers and children in 12 countries by European researches. The study was conducted in the densely-populated, highly polluted Europe between February 11, 1994 and June 2, 2011. The concentrations of nitrogen dioxides and nitrogen oxides measured in the homes of the mother-child cohorts in the areas they conducted their study even had an negative impact on the fetuses. Over the years of their study, researchers found that a 5 micrograms per cubic meter increase in air pollution was enough to increase the risk for low birth weight by 18 percent. Remy Slama, a senior investigator at the Institute of Health and Medical Research in Grenoble, France, believes that low birth weight in infants caused by air pollution also links to medical defects in children and adults.
The researchers in this study estimate that if air pollution in Europe is decreased by 10 micrograms per cubic meter, then the low birth weight percentage would decrease by 22 percent. They interpreted from their study that traffic effects low birth weights in Europe. This makes sense, as many areas of Europe are densely populated and the exhaust fumes from cars is a concern in most city-areas. Air pollution has been suspected to link to lung cancer and emphysema for years, but this study shows that unborn infants are even in danger of the pollutants in the outside world. Remy Slama, who conducted the study, also states that even the smallest of air pollution particles have the ability to enter the bloodstream of the mother and effect the fetus. This study shows how sensitive an unborn fetus is to air pollution, even though it has not breathed in the air outside through its own lungs. As population increases over the years, so does the pollution levels.The researchers of this study have also linked the low birth weight of their study population to respiratory health problems as the infants aged into childhood. The best solution is to find a clean energy source for motor vehicles to run on. This will greatly reduce the air pollution in high-traffic cities in Europe. If not, the risk for low infant birth weight will continue to rise, as will the medical risks to children and adults as they age.