BUFFALO, N.Y. — While pregnant women may worry about the effects of air pollution on their health and that of their developing child, exposure to carbon monoxide and fine particles in the air during pregnancy does not appear to increase the risk of preterm delivery or preeclampsia — a serious condition that arises only during pregnancy — according to results of a study headed by a University at Buffalo epidemiologist.
The research was conducted in the region around Seattle, Wash., using data from 3,675 women who were enrolled in the Omega Study, an investigation of the effects of diet and environment on women’s health and nutrition before and during pregnancy.
Carole Rudra, PhD, assistant professor of social and preventive medicine at UB and first author on the study, presented the results June 23 at the Society for Pediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology annual meeting held in Seattle June 22-23.
Rudra studies the ways in which the human-made environment and maternal behaviors affect health during pregnancy.
“There is strong evidence that air pollutants may increase risk of cardiovascular disease,” says Rudra. “This led me to examine air pollutants in relation to preeclampsia, which is similar to cardiovascular disease and a risk factor for the condition. Pollutants may interfere with delivery of oxygen to the placenta and increase maternal oxidative stress and inflammation. These pathways could lead to both preeclampsia and preterm delivery.”