Fine dust increases risk of underweight babies

Summary

Women who breathe in too many fine particles during their pregnancy are more likely to have a baby with a lower-than-average birth weight

Air pollution in Flanders could contribute to more babies with lower birth weight

Women who breathe in too many fine particles during their pregnancy are more likely to have a baby with a birth weight lower than average. That is the conclusion of environmental epidemiologist Tim Nawrot of Hasselt University, who analysed Flemish data. Babies with a lower birth weight run a larger risk of cardiovascular diseases later in life.

Professor Nawrot discovered that the energy supply to the placenta is reduced by high concentrations of fine dust. The effect of air pollution is also more extreme on babies born too early.

In Flanders, concentrations of fine particles are on average 35 microgram per cubic metre, considerably higher than the limit of 20 microgram per cubic metre set by the World Health Organisation. According to professor Nawrot, even relatively low concentrations can be harmful.

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