High exposure to air pollution has now been linked to an increased risk of congenital malformations, according to a study published in Environmental Research.
This nationwide study is the first to assess the association between different modes of conception- assisted reproductive technology (ART) versus spontaneous conception (SC), and the risks of exposure to air pollution to each.
The researchers analyzed data on 216,730 born in Israel between 1997 and 2004, and assessed every woman for the effects of exposure to air pollution during both the first trimester and the entire pregnancy. Air pollution data i.e. sulfur dioxide (SO2), particulate matter (PM10), nitrogen oxides (NOX), and ozone (O3), were obtained from air monitoring stations for the study period.
Researchers found that exposure to PM10 and NOX throughout full-term pregnancies were associated with an increased risk of congenital malformations, with specific defects evident in the circulatory system (from both PM10 and NOX exposure) and genital organs (only from NOX exposure). They also discovered that exposure to SO2 and O3 in ART pregnancies were associated with a higher risk of congenital defects, although not significantly.
Thus, the researchers suggest that exposure to higher levels of air pollution during pregnancy is associated with various adverse pregnancy outcomes.