Researchers have determined a link between premature births and air pollution, which the study also proved it can have an impact in the U.S. of about $4 billion in medical costs per year. The team concluded that an environmental regulatory intervention could have considerable benefits in population’s health and economic burden.
The annual amount was divided in about $3.6 billion in lost wages and productivity linked to physical and mental deficits tied to premature births and nearly $760 million for explicit medical care expenses such as hospitalizations and treatment, as reported by the Huffington Post.
“Air pollution associated preterm birth contributes direct medical costs in the first few years of life due to associated conditions, such as in the newborn intensive care unit, as well as lost economic productivity due to developmental disabilities and lost cognitive potential,” said Dr. Leonardo Trasande, lead study author and environmental health researcher at New York University School of Medicine in New York City.
Scientists from the published study in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives analyzed air quality data and birth records. Their analysis aimed at a single type of pollution proven to be the cause of about 16,000 premature babies nationwide due to problems related to it, about 3 percent of all preterm births.
The team from New York is not the first one to link the pollution to early births, but the cause still remains unknown as well as why they are linked. As a limitation, research lacked data on individual exposure to air pollution and its influence on pregnancy.
Dr. Bruce Lanphear, a researcher at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, who wasn’t involved in the study, commented that toxic air was just one of many variables that can influence pregnancy outcomes.
Early birth is due to the cumulative impact of various risk factors and it is not constructive to continually put one risk factor over another, added Lanphear.
Source: The Washington Post