References

Department for Environment. Food and Rural Affairs. 2019. https://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/air-pollution/ (accessed 24 May 2019)

Malley CS, Kuylenstierna JCI, Vallack HW, Henze DK, Blencowe H, Ashmore MR. Preterm birth associated with maternal fine particulate matter exposure: A global, regional and national assessment. Environ Int. 2017; 101:173-182 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2017.01.023

Air pollution: outdoor air quality and health [NG70].London: NICE; 2017

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. Air pollution: outdoor air quality and health: NICE quality standard draft for consultation. 2018. https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/GID-QS10067/documents/draft-quality-standard (accessed 24 May 2019)

Raz R, Roberts AL, Lyall K Autism spectrum disorder and particulate air pollution before, during and after pregnancy: a nested case-control analysis within the Nurses Health Study II cohort. Environ Health Perspect. 2015; 123:(3)264-70 https://doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1408133

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Breathe easy

02 July 2019
2 min read
Volume 27 · Issue 7

Abstract

Awareness of environmental issues is growing, including efforts to tackle air polluion. But, asks Louise Silverton CBE, is enough being done to protect pregnant women and their babies?

Air pollution is high on the news agenda. Many UK cities are in breach of EU clean air regulations and are looking to see how the situation can be improved. Consideration is being given to ultra-low emission zones, banning cars idling and controls over wood-burning stoves, among many other initiatives.

Advice from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) (2019) on air pollution refers only to children and those at risk due to lung or heart disease. It does not mention pregnant women. This is a serious oversight, given the emphasis on stopping smoking and avoiding second-hand smoke.

Does DEFRA not know the risks of air pollution for pregnant women? A study by Malley et al (2017) showed that air pollution was linked to 2.7 million preterm births worldwide. This study identified that particulate matter (from diesel vehicles, fires and industrial emissions) was a major cause. This is worrying, as UK cities have high levels of particulates in the air.

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