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AMA report ties climate change to pregnancy risks, disproportionate impact on black mothers

Jun 18, 2020 12:30 pm
Christopher Flavelle is reporting for The New York Times pregnant women exposed to high temperatures or air pollution are more likely to have children who are premature, underweight or stillborn, according to research published June 18, by a journal of the American Medical Association. The data adds to the growing body of evidence that minorities and black women in particular, bear a disproportionate share of the danger from pollution and global warming. “We already know that these pregnancy outcomes are worse for black women,” said Rupa Basu, chief of the air and climate epidemiological section for the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment in California and one of the authors of the paper. “It’s even more exacerbated by these exposures.” The authors looked at 57 studies published since 2007 that found a relationship between heat or air pollution and birth outcomes in the United States. Together, the studies analyzed 32.8 million births. The findings provide reason to worry that the harm to babies’ health will grow as climate change worsens. The studies that examined the link between air pollution and preterm birth or low birth weight found those risks were greater for black mothers. Premature birth and low birth weight can have consequences that last a lifetime, affecting such things as brain development and vulnerability to disease. “This really does set the stage for an entire generation,” said Dr. Nathaniel DeNicola, another of the paper's authors. Read the full story in The New York Times.