Doctors advise waiting or getting out of Utah’s bad air to conceive. The same goes double in Fairbanks and North Pole where particulate concentrations are far higher for many more days than in Utah.
You wouldn’t smoke cigarettes when you’re pregnant. Don’t breathe polluted air either.
A group of doctors points to studies showing that exposure to PM 2.5, as in Utah during inversions, may lower birth weight.
“Try to conceive in mid- to late-spring, after the inversion is over. That probably gives [a woman] the best window of opportunity for the critical first three months [for the fetus] to develop under the least amount of pollution,” said Brian Moench, anesthesiologist and president of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment. Better yet, he says, “get out of Salt Lake City to conceive.”
The docs were responding to the recent release of a massive multi-country, 3-million-birth study that showed the risk of having a baby of low birth weight — meaning less than 5 lbs. 8 oz. — jumps 10 percent for each 10 μg/m3 increase in fine particulate matter (PM 2.5). The risk was calculated for exposure during the entire pregnancy and adjusted for maternal socioeconomic status.
Why is low birth weight a concern?
“Babies who are born too small for their gestational age are at increased risk of a variety of morbidity outcomes either during infancy or during childhood—things like increased risk of infection, they could be at risk of neurodevelopmental problems later in childhood, and now we know from very interesting research that even the effects that occur early in gestation, which may be manifested through observing this low birth weight, can also be a marker for increased risk of adult disease—so, increased risk of cardiovascular disease, increased risk of diabetes and other types of metabolic disorders.” — Tracey Woodruff, researcher, Center for Reproductive Health and the Environment, University of California–San Francisco, San Francisco, California
Links to the study and news coverage:
3 million births, 14 centers from 9 countries, 29 researchers, 95% confidence interval
Global Push: Multicontinent Project Assesses Particulate Matter and Birth Weight 3/1/2013 Environmental Health Perspectives
Docs: Wait – or get out of Utah’s bad air – to conceive 2/15/2013 Salt Lake Tribune