Monday June 24, 2019

Researchers find benefits of clean air on fetal growth

0
//

smoke-654071_640

By NewsGram Staff Writer

Women breathing high levels of pollution during the last month of pregnancy are more likely to give birth to babies with significantly lower weight as compared to an unexposed woman. A study of the effects of the air-quality controls, introduced during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, brings out the revelation.

Scientists involved in the study said that the temporary pollution regulations imposed on Beijing during 2008 Olympics had a measurable and positive effects on the weight of babies born to mothers who were 8-months pregnant at that time.

It is the first time when a study is able to indicate the harmful effects of air pollution on development of fetus in the womb while specifying the importance of clean air for fetal growth.

During 2008 Olympics, the Chinese government had imposed stringent curbs on vehicles and industry to minimize the impact of city’s high levels of air pollution on competing athletes. It was during this time when almost 84,000 births to mothers living in four urban districts of Beijing before, during and after the 2008 Olympics, were analyzed.

The study found that women who were in the eighth month of their pregnancy benefited most from the significantly “cleaner” air in the Chinese capital. The babies born to them were on average 23 grams heavier than the babies born to similar women in 2007 and 2009, when air pollution controls were not as severe.

David Rich, an epidemiologist at the University of Rochester Medical Centre in New York, and lead author of the study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, said, “This is the first study to show that when air pollution levels go down during the 8th month of pregnancy, we see an increase in birth weight.”

Just before the Olympics, the Chinese government took many steps to bring down the high pollution level in the capital. They prohibited traffic, closed factories and even seeded clouds to make it rain. These measures together led to 60% reduction in sulfur dioxide, 48% reduction in carbon monoxide, 43% reduction in nitrogen dioxide and a reduction in the number of particles in the air smaller than 2.5 microns, which have the capability to enter the blood stream through the lungs.

“The results of this study demonstrate a clear association between changes in air pollutant concentrations and birth weight. These findings not only illustrate one of the many significant health consequences of pollution, but also demonstrate that this phenomenon can be reversed,” said Dr. Rich.

“While Beijing’s pollution is particularly noteworthy, many of the world’s other cities face similar air-quality problems. This study shows that pollution controls – even short-term ones – can have positive public health benefits,” said Junfeng Zhang, a researcher at Duke University in North Carolina, who led the study.

Next Story

Facebook’s Push to Become China’s WeChat May Kill it

As people become increasingly aware of social media’s harm, social media will lose its lustre

0
facebook, christchurch attack, new zealand
FILE - The Facebook logo is seen on a shop window in Malaga, Spain, June 4, 2018. (VOA)

Facebook which accounts for 75 per cent of global ad spend that is likely to hit $110 billion by 2020 is nowhere near an immediate demise and government regulations would only strengthen the social networking giant in the short term, a new Forrester research has forecast.

However, Facebook’s push to become China’s WeChat — more than a messaging app and is full of capabilities to make life easier for its one billion users — would be its undoing.

Facebook‘s no-good-very-bad 2018 may have meant an overworked PR team but the social media behemoth is doing just fine.

It continues to report steady user and revenue growth: a 9 per cent year over year increase in users in Q4 2018 and a 30 per cent increase in revenue in the same time-frame.

“The three parties that could impact Facebook the most — users, brands and regulators — will move too slowly for it to feel any instant impact,” said Jessica Liu, Senior Analyst, Forrester.

The coming years won’t be easier, but the social media behemoth won’t suddenly collapse either, as many predict.

facebook
FILE – The logo for Facebook appears on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York’s Times Square, March 29, 2018. VOA

“But while Facebook’s short-term outlook might be fine, its long-term outlook is bleak,” Liu added

Despite constant negative news last year, Facebook continued to report strong quarter-

over-quarter user and revenue growth. Brands that mishandle their own users’ data and fail to inform them typically falter.

While these users and advertisers could affect change at the social media giant immediately, they won’t, thus allowing it to continue to defy the odds.

“Enacting and enforcing regulation takes so long that Facebook will be able to shore up its assets and unique advantages in the short term and eliminate any vulnerabilities before serious user, advertiser, or regulatory changes materialize,” Liu emphasised.

The social networking giant with over two billion users globally, is facing regulatory challenges as the Cambridge Analytica scandal has exposed its lapses of data privacy and security.

facebook, personal data
FILE – A man poses for a photo in front of a computer showing Facebook ad preferences in San Francisco, California, March 26, 2018. VOA

The downfall for Facebook, said Liu, would come with its desire to build an all-inclusive social media experience, as its CEO mark Zuckerberg is planning to merge all apps like Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram into one.

“Facebook’s hope to recreate WeChat, China’s largest messaging app turned all-in-one portal

to the Internet, presents long-term challenges,” Liu added.

WeChat primarily operates in a single country’s political and regulatory environment.

Also Read: South Korean Tech Giant Samsung Launches 2 New Tablets in India

“Facebook will need to tack on products and services to fulfill its one-app vision while global regulators threaten antitrust. It will also grapple with protecting user privacy globally while appeasing advertiser appetite for hypertargeting,” Liu noted.

As people become increasingly aware of social media’s harm, social media will lose its lustre.

“History has taught us that existing apps max out and then decline as users tire of the services or the company (like AOL, MySpace, Friendster). The Facebook app is already experiencing this; Instagram and WhatsApp will follow in a natural peak and then eventually decelerate, too,” Liu commented. (IANS)