Would Haze Affect my Pregnancy?
Haze is usually the result of air pollution from forest fires, where there are fine, suspended particles and ash in the environment, which are very harmful to living things. It is a well-known fact that repeated exposure to haze would adversely affect one’s health, especially for vulnerable groups of people, such as the elderly, young children and pregnant women.
Pregnant moms are at higher risks because they tend to breathe at an increased rate, as their hearts need to work harder than normal people to transport oxygen to the foetus, making them especially vulnerable to the negative effects of air pollution. The ultra-fine particles, PM2.5 (which are particles smaller than 2.5 micrometres in size) are worrying because they are tiny enough to penetrate human lungs, and into our blood and tissues, causing inflammation throughout the body. These inflammatory damages can affect the placenta’s blood supply, interfering with its development and function, compromising the growth of the foetus.
That means that pregnant moms-to-be should avoid the haze to prevent potential complications, as other than posing health risks for the mom, such as asthma, irritation of eyes and dryness of throat, harmful pollutants in the air inhaled by moms can also reach the womb through the umbilical cord.
Depending on the severity of air pollution, prolonged exposure will increase the risks of pregnancy complications, including gestational diabetes and high blood pressure. It can even lead to lower IQ in childhood for your baby, low birth weight, premature births, stillbirths and infant deaths- which is why haze and any air pollution should be taken seriously and avoided at all costs, because of the potential short-term and lifelong effects on your unborn baby.
According to a 2010 research of 183 countries, in an estimated 2.7 million premature births, as high as 18% are linked to haze exposure. In another recent 2019 study, PM2.5 was associated with spikes in premature births, and for moms who are exposed to smoke during the first trimester, their babies’ birth weight was lower than average. Preterm births are also linked to your child having learning difficulties and behavioural problems in their childhood, with an increased risk of heart disease when they grow up. In the same study, it was found that pollutant exposure during any trimester also increases the chance of high blood pressure and gestational diabetes.
Exposure to haze during pregnancy has also been associated with increased risks of conditions such as visual or hearing impairment, and cerebral palsy. Some U.S. studies have also found that exposure to pollution during pregnancy can cause autism. Moms-to-be who live in highly polluted areas are twice as likely to give birth to a baby diagnosed with autism, likely caused by toxins like lead, diesel fuel, mercury and manganese, heavy chemicals and metals from heavy industry emissions.
For pregnant mothers, it is best to take precautions and reduce exposure to haze as much as possible to avoid harm to your unborn baby.
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