Traffic congestion may contribute to lower birthweight, according to a new study of pregnant women in Beijing.
The study, published in the journal Environment International, found that expectant mothers who were exposed to higher levels of traffic-related air pollution and noise had babies with lower birthweights.
“Our findings suggest that exposure to traffic-related air pollution and noise during pregnancy is associated with lower birthweight, which is a risk factor for a variety of adverse health outcomes in childhood and adulthood,” said study author Meng Wang, a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
The study included nearly 300,000 pregnant women living in Beijing. The researchers used data from Beijing’s air quality monitoring system and traffic noise monitors to estimate the levels of air pollution and noise exposure the women were experiencing.
The team then looked at the birth records of the women’s babies, noting the babies’ birthweights.
After taking into account a number of other potentially confounding factors, the researchers found that exposure to higher levels of traffic-related air pollution and noise was associated with lower birthweights.
“These findings add to the growing body of evidence linking traffic-related air pollution and noise exposure to adverse health outcomes,” said senior author Elisabeth Broniatowski, an assistant professor of environmental and occupational health at George Washington University.
“Given the ubiquity of traffic-related air pollution and noise exposure, even a small effect on birthweight can have important public health implications,” she said.
The findings suggest that pregnant women who live in areas with high levels of traffic-related pollution and noise may benefit from measures to reduce their exposure, such as air purifiers or noise-cancelling headphones.
There is a growing body of evidence that suggests traffic congestion may have a negative impact on birthweight. A recent study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives found that exposure to traffic-related air pollution during pregnancy was associated with lower birthweight.
The study, which was conducted in the Netherlands, looked at data from over 4,000 pregnant women. The women were classified as living in either highly-congested or non-congested areas based on traffic intensity data. The researchers found that women living in highly-congested areas were more likely to give birth to babies with a lower birthweight.
Although the mechanism by which traffic congestion may impact birthweight is not fully understood, it is thought that traffic-related air pollution may be one contributing factor. This is because exposure to air pollution has been linked to lower birthweight in previous studies.
The findings of this study add to the growing body of evidence that traffic congestion may have a negative impact on health. Therefore, it is important to take steps to reduce exposure to traffic-related air pollution, such as by avoiding high-traffic areas during pregnancy.