Loma Linda University study finds link between pollution, health
LOMA LOMa, Calif.
– California public health researchers have found a link between indoor air pollution and premature birth, increasing the chances that women will get premature births.
The findings by Loma Loma University researchers may help inform health officials and policymakers about the need to reduce air pollution in the U.S., said a paper published Thursday in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
The researchers studied the health effects of exposure to high levels of particles in California air and found that women who live near high levels were more likely to give birth prematurely, and more likely than women in other parts of the state to have high birth weight.
The research was conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles, in collaboration with other institutions, including the University at Albany and the University College London.
“It’s been an area that has been under-investigated,” said the study’s lead author, Laura A. McBride, an environmental health scientist with the Loma Lombardet Cancer Institute and Loma Lojo Health Care.
“This study shows a clear connection between air pollution exposure and premature births, and it has implications for how health departments, public health officials, health care providers and the public are thinking about health care services.”
McBride is also a postdoctoral fellow at the Lomas Lombardets Center for Health Services Research at UC-Los Angeles and the L.A. County Department of Public Health.
She said that the finding could be used by health departments to understand whether they should expand services for pregnant women to the more rural areas.
The results of the study also showed a link with birthweight among pregnant women.
They also showed that those who lived in rural areas were less likely to have children than those who were exposed to the same levels of pollution.
McBride said that her findings suggest that it is important for pregnant and nursing women to be aware of the potential risks of exposure.
She added that the research is part of a larger effort to understand how air pollution affects the developing fetus and the developing immune system, which could help inform public health policies.
McBoundes findings could also have implications for the health care system, as the researchers noted that women are more likely for early labor to be associated with higher air pollution levels, which are linked to higher rates of premature births among pregnant and lactating women.
In addition, the researchers found that air pollution may be linked to other health problems, including lower levels of vitamin D in the blood and higher rates and types of lung infections among women who were older than 50.
“If you have asthma, you might be more susceptible to a higher number of chronic bronchitis or pneumonia,” McBride said.
“And if you have high blood pressure, you’re more likely, in addition to a high risk for diabetes, to develop heart disease or stroke.
We need to understand the relationship between air pollutants and those diseases.”
The researchers said that if health departments in the state were able to address the concerns about air pollution, the number of premature deaths could decrease.