Does Pollution affect Pregnancy?

 Being pregnant is an experience that every woman waits to have and takes every small and big effort to make the process healthy and safe. All possible measures like a healthy diet, paying regular visits to your doctor, taking prenatal vitamins, etc are taken by a pregnant lady.


All the above-mentioned things are in her control but there are some factors that are not. To start with, Air that she breathes. Polluted air deteriorates the health of people, and obviously, pregnancy being the delicate phase is affected.


Air Pollution


Currently, many countries in the world are struggling to control air pollution. With increasing vehicular emissions, dust, cigarette smoke, smoke from trash burning, chemical pesticides and insecticides, emissions from power plants fuelled by coal and gas, spray paints, etc., the air is getting polluted with each passing day. 


Pollutant Matter – PM


Pollutants like ozone, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, etc. contribute to the making of Particulate Matter (PM) which are microscopic solid or liquid matter suspended in the air. 

PM10 and PM2.5. types of Particulate matter depending upon their sizes.

PM10 has a diameter of 10 micrometers or less while PM2.5 has a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or less. To give a reference, Human hair is 50-70 micrometers, now you can imagine how fine and microscopic these particles are. 

PM2.5 consists of pollutants such as heavy metals, organic compounds, combustion particles, asbestos, bacteria, etc. Exposure to PM 2.5 in the first month of pregnancy causes placental blood toxicity and directly harms the fetus. 

Effect of pollution on pregnancy

Low Birth Weight

Polluted air results in low birth weight of babies.

During the 2008 Olympics held in China, the most populated country, and to maintain the well-being two months of lower emission was mandated. These restrictions improved air quality and interestingly in Beijing, ladies in the 8th month around this time delivered 0.8 ounces heavier babies. 


Preterm Birth

Exposure to PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) during pregnancy is been linked to premature births. 

3 million babies are born prematurely, with other many factors, PAH is also one of the reasons for premature deliveries. 18% of all annual preterm births have been linked with exposure to particulate matter pollution. 

should try to avoid it.


As per a study conducted by the Harvard School of Public health, Women exposed to high particulate matter pollution during their third trimester are twice likely to deliver babies with Autism.



Exposure of mother to pollutants increases the chances of the baby developing asthma in later life as particulate matter breaches the placenta and lodges deep into the lungs.



As per Columbia university’s observation, exposure to air pollution during pregnancy may develop behavioral issues in babies like ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity) and OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorders)


What can we do?

Air is an important element and as an individual, we have less control over. Yet few safety measures can be followed by the pregnant woman to protect herself and her unborn child.

1. Protect your air

Avoid cigarette smokes whether it is active or passive smoking 

Avoid freshly painted rooms 

Use chimneys or exhaust fan whenever you cook

Keep an eye on hair sprays or garbage burning as it adds contaminants to household air.


2. Get Air purifying plants 

Plants have the power to naturally filter air. Certain plants remove volatile organic compounds and replace carbon monoxide with fresh and clean oxygen. 

Plants like money plants, rubber plants, spider plants, snake plants, aloe vera, peace lily, Chinese evergreen, etc. have the capacity to purify the air. Keep one plant for every 100 sq feet for cleaner air. 


3. Stay inside

whenever the forecast says outdoor pollution is high try not to expose yourselves to outdoor as the skin absorbs 60-80% of whatever encounters it.


4. Use of masks

keep the habit of checking AQI (air quality index) in and around your place and use masks. Masks like N99, N95, and N100 have the capacity to filter particulate matter 2.5 which mainly affects pregnancy.

5. Get Air Purifier

If you happen to live in cities like Delhi, Noida, Ghaziabad, Faridabad, or any other highly polluted city, go for air purifiers. 

Air purifier purifies air by removing smoke and allergens from the air helping you and your baby to grow in a healthier environment. 

Invest in a certified HEPA (high-efficiency particulate absorber) air filter which has a 100% efficiency rate.


6. If circumstances allow, try to move to a healthier and greener space during your pregnancy for at least the first and last couple of months.

However bad the conditions are, you need to fight and find better ways. Nature and natural are the safest and healthiest options. Make your journey a better one seeking the asylum of Nature.

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