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Traffic air pollution is risk for pregnant women

There are plenty of studies that detail the risks of poor air quality for pregnant women and their fetuses. The studies provide ample evidence that expectant mothers should seriously consider investing in a high-performance air purifier.

Now a new study of almost a quarter of a million women in Australia confirms a connection between air quality and healthy – or not-so-healthy – pregnancy. The study was published this month in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. Researchers found that women living in high traffic-pollution areas had a 12 percent higher risk of developing a medical condition known as “preeclampsia.” The condition is also known as “toxemia.” Preeclampsia can cause a wide variety of health problems and even life-threatening risks for expectant mothers and their babies.

Preeclampsia occurs when a pregnant woman develops high blood pressure or other symptoms in the late pregnancy, often in the third trimester, according to the National Institutes of Health. Although the exact cause of the disorder is unknown, diet, genes, and autoimmune disorders have been suspected causes. To that list, add exposure to air pollution from traffic.

According to the new study, the risk of pregnant women developing preeclampsia increased to 30 percent for women in their third trimester, and even higher when other major risks factors for preeclampsia were also present.

Past studies have outlined other serious health risks for pregnant women related to air quality. For example, a UCLA study of 2,500 women who gave birth in 2003 found that women who lived in areas with high levels of fine particle pollution were 10-25 percent more likely to give birth prematurely.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)says there are many air quality issues that are of special concern for pregnant women. A recent report outlines at least four of them:

1. Exposure to secondhand smoke, which can result in poor fetal development, reduced lung function, cognitive deficits and other serious health problems.

2. Exposure to particle pollution, which can increase cardiovascular risk and has been linked to low birth weight.

3. Ozone is a concern in both its man-made form and also as a result of dangerous ozone-generating air purifiers. These devices “emit ozone gas into the indoor air at levels that can irritate airways and exacerbate existing respiratory conditions,” according to the EPA. The EPA also notes that exposure to ozone has been linked to low birth weight babies, especially in the second or third trimesters.

4. Exposure to cleaning and other household products, including those that emit vapors with volatile organic compounds. Paint fumes in particular can be hazardous to pregnant women and their fetuses.

Click here to download a copy of the EPA report (PDF).

A high-performance air purifier such as the New Edition HealthPro Plus or GC MultiGas from IQAir can help protect against airborne pollutants that put pregnant women and others at risk. Visit www.iqair.com to read more about IQAir air purifiers that are rated #1 in protection against gases, odors, chemicals and smoke as well as particle pollution.

Air Quality Life is brought to you by The IQAir Group, the world’s leading innovator of Indoor Air Quality solutions since 1963. This online publication is designed to educate and inform the public about the latest research and news affecting indoor and outdoor air quality.

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