Friday December 6, 2019

Researchers find benefits of clean air on fetal growth

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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.

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Children of Diabetic Mothers May Develop Heart Risks: Study

Kids born of diabetic mothers at heart risk

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Children of mothers with diabetes have increased rates of early onset heart diseases. Pixabay

Children of mothers with diabetes have increased rates of early onset cardiovascular disease or CVD (conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels) from childhood up to the age of 40, the researchers have warned.

The increased rates were more pronounced among children of mothers with a history of CVD or diabetic complications, said the study published in the journal The BMJ.

“our study provides evidence that children of mothers with diabetes, especially those with a history of CVD or with diabetic complications, had increased rates of early onset CVD throughout the early decades of life,” said study researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark.

If this association is shown to be causal, preventing, screening, and treating diabetes in women of childbearing age could be important not only for improving the health of the women but also for reducing long term risks of CVD in their offspring, the researchers added

The number of women diagnosed with diabetes before or during pregnancy has increased globally, and children of these women are more likely to have risk factors for future CVD, such as high blood pressure and high blood sugar levels.

It is unclear, however, whether or to what extent exposure to diabetes in the womb increases the risk of developing CVD in offspring over a lifetime.

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Children with diabetic mothers may develop CVD which may increase heart complications. Pixabay

So an international team of researchers set out to evaluate associations between diabetes diagnosed before or during pregnancy and early onset CVD in children during their first four decades of life.

They base their findings on national registry data for over 2.4 million children born without congenital heart disease in Denmark from 1977 to 2016.

Diabetes was categorised as pregestational (before pregnancy) or gestational (during pregnancy) and women with diabetic complications were identified.

Other potentially influential factors, such as mother’s age, education, lifestyle and medical history were also taken into account.

During up to 40 years of follow-up, children of mothers with diabetes had a 29 per cent increased overall rate of early onset CVD compared with children of mothers who did not have diabetes (cumulative risks: 17.8 per cent vs 13.1 per cent ).

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The researchers also found higher rates for specific types of CVD children of mothers with diabetes, particularly heart failure (45 per cent), hypertensive disease (78 per cent), deep vein thrombosis (82 per cent), and pulmonary embolism (91 per cent).

Increased rates were seen in each age group in childhood (before 20 years of age) and early adulthood (from 20 to 40 years of age), regardless of the type of diabetes they were exposed to (pregestational or gestational) and rates were similar for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, the study said. (IANS)