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Low Birth Weight Linked to Highway Proximity

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Wednesday, August 13, 2008 12:03 AM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: FDA and Prescription Drugs, Premature Birth, Pregnancy, Infants and Children, Highway Pollution

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IMAGE SOURCE: © iStockphoto / mom and newborn / author: iDerLander

Affluent pregnant women that live near highways are more likely to deliver low-birth-weight, pre-term or small babies, say Canadian researchers in a newly released study.

The study found disproportionately high associations between mothers living close to a highway and birth complications among affluent mothers, said Dr. Mélissa Généreux, study author and resident physician at the University of Montreal.

Using data from the Quebec birth registry, researchers at the University of Montreal looked at medical records of nearly 100,000 single births that occurred in Montreal from 1997 to 2001.

Researchers calculated the distance between mothers’ addresses and the nearest highway and used census data to determine their education and socioeconomic levels.

The study found that living in an wealthy neighborhood within 220 yards of highway was linked with a 58 percent increased risk of pre-mature birth, an 81 percent increased risk of low-birth-weight and a 32 percent increased risk of the infant being small for gestational age, compared to mothers who don’t live anywhere near a highway.

Researchers theorize another possibility – for many moms, living in close proximity to a highway may become a chronic stressor, as it creates noise pollution and therefore affects the mother’s well-being and emotional state of her unborn infant.

The study, Neighbourhood Socioeconomic Status, Maternal Education and Adverse Birth Outcomes Among Mothers Living Near Highways, is published in the August issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. #


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