New research finds a strong link between air pollution and babies born prematurely


#TIA – If you run out of things to worry about this afternoon you might think about air pollution.

In a far-ranging study analyzing data from 183 countries, researchers have pointed to a strong link between air pollution and preterm babies, estimating that one in five babies (pdf, p.4) are born prematurely because of their mothers’ exposure during pregnancy to high levels of PM2.5, fine particulate matter that can reach deep into the respiratory tract.

Their study, published Feb. 10 in the journal Environment International, provides the first global estimate of preterm babies linked to PM2.5. More than 3.4 million premature babies (pdf, p.1), or infants born before 37 weeks, were associated with PM2.5 in 2010, according to data analyzed by a research team led by University of York’s Stockholm Environment Institute. The most impacted areas were sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, and South and East Asia, which made up the largest portion of preterm births associated with PM2.5.

Read more at Quartz