A study finds remnants of air pollutants as the cause of thousands of stillborn babies.
While air pollution has long been linked to many health concerns, it is only recently that an alarming figure of around 64,000 stillborn babies a year has been estimated, according to Wion.
Over the years, the alarming state of China’s air pollution has urged its administration to support renewable energy initiatives, modernize businesses, and reduce traffic-related pollution.
However, the World Health Organization (WHO) still warns vulnerable population groups about the risks and health implications of poor air quality, including pregnant women, persons over 60, and children under five.
How Air Pollution Negatively Affects Pregnancy
The Guardian reports that an epidemiological study has found that exposure to pollution particles, which are mostly created by burning fossil fuels, may be responsible for nearly half of stillbirths.
To connect the dots between air pollution and stillborns, hazardous air pollution particles were discovered in fetuses’ lungs and brains. According to scientists, air pollution may interfere with the mother’s ability to deliver oxygen to the fetus by affecting the placenta itself and causing irreversible developmental damage.
“In recent years, China has been working hard on treating air pollution and seen rapid improvement in air quality as a result, which is of great importance to the protection of the health of pregnant women and children,” Research author Zhu Tong said. “However, a great population and uneven social development mean there are still a big number of pregnant women exposed to air pollution,” he added.
Similar studies regarding the connection between air pollution and stillborn babies have also been conducted in Asia, Africa, and Latin American populations. However, Zhu Tong’s research is currently the first study to determine a specific number of reported fetal deaths.
What Is China Doing About Their Air Pollution?
Despite the alarming state of China’s air pollution, studies also find that the condition is reportedly getting better over the years.
Notably, the Chinese government began taking considerable steps to combat air pollution in China after the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. While the city stood in the spotlight throughout the world, concerns were raised about the effect of air pollution on athlete performance, and a wave of restrictions on polluting activities was put into place.
Air quality in China has significantly improved since a campaign against smog was started in 2013. In the heavily polluted northern Chinese cities between 2013 and 2017, the air quality improved by 35%.
According to Reuters, PM2.5 concentrations, which are small, dangerous airborne particles, decreased by about 50% from 2015 levels to 30 micrograms per cubic meter in 2016.
Although the movement to reduce air pollutants has proven to cut down a significant amount and has been a great step forward, China’s air quality is still a major concern today.