Data suggests a worrying link between climate change and infant and maternal health, especially for Black mothers
Exposure to higher temperatures and air pollution, both byproducts of climate change, may increase the likelihood of complication during pregnancy, a recent meta-analysis published on the American Medical Association’s JAMA Network indicates. The analysis reviewed 57 past studies that had investigated over 32 million births in the U.S and found that women exposed to heat or pollution during their pregnancies are more likely to have premature, underweight, or stillborn babies. Apparently, the link is strongest in black mothers.
The report, published amid a surge of demonstrations in support of racial equality and the Black Lives Matter movement, adds to the ever-growing body of evidence that minorities are disproportionately vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Black people in particular are more likely to live near high-pollution industrial sites as well as in hotter areas, a phenomenon known as the “heat island effect.”
“We already know that these pregnancy outcomes are worse for Black women,” one of the paper’s authors Rupa Basu told The New York Times. “It’s even more exacerbated by these exposures.”
The study examined the link between higher temperatures and stillbirths and found that every temperature increase of one degree Celsius in the week before delivery corresponded with a 6% greater likelihood of stillbirth.
“Black moms matter,” Bruce Bekkar, another author of the report, told The New York Times. “It’s time to really be paying attention to the groups that are especially vulnerable.”