Study links bad air, fetal development problems

Posted at 4:59 PM, Feb 15, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-16 00:45:41-05

SALT LAKE CITY -  A new study shows that bad air can have a serious and long-lasting impact on a baby's development, and doctors are encouraging women to take extra precautions during their pregnancy.

The new research done by the Environmental Health Perspectives links air pollution and fetal development.

The study shows a strong association between high PM2.5 levels and low birth weight, which can lead to problems like heart or lung disease, obesity and diabetes.

Other studies have shown the same link, but this study is the largest, looking at three million births in nine countries.

Doctors don't want people to panic, but they encourage women to take extra precautions during pregnancy. They suggest living somewhere outside Salt Lake City or staying inside as much as possible.

"I don't think this has to wreck havoc and panic in the community but at the same time it should also call us to arms so to speak. This is a serious public health issue," said Dr. Brian Moench, President of the Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment. "This is
affecting little children. This is affecting their life-long propensity for chronic diseases. It's affecting the opportunity they have to grow and develop normally."

The physicians' group says the best time to get pregnant is in the late spring.