University of Florida Study Links Outdoor Air Pollution to Hypertension in Pregnant Women

AirpollutionA new study by researchers at the University of Florida finds that air pollution can be as harmful to pregnant women as cigarette smoke.

Researchers examined Environmental Protection Agency data on outdoor air pollution in neighborhoods of Jacksonville, Florida. They found that women who lived in areas of high pollution were significantly more likely to develop hypertension during pregnancy than women in areas with cleaner air.

“Fetal development is very sensitive to environmental factors,” said Dr. Xiaohui Xu, an assistant professor of epidemiology in the colleges of Public Health and Health Professions and Medicine at the University of Florida. “Hypertension (high blood pressure), in particular, is associated with increased morbidity and mortality, causing a lot of problems for the mother and fetus, including preterm delivery.”

The study included more than 22,000 women who gave birth over a two-year period. Women who had hypertension prior to becoming pregnant and those who had previously had a premature birth or whose earlier babies had health complications were excluded from the results.

The research, “Ambient Air Pollution and Hypertensive Disorder of Pregnancy,” was published in the January issue of the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. It may be accessed here.

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