Hot Weather Can Be Linked To Poor Pregnancy Results: Research
Study finds that for every 1°C rise in temperature, the risk of stillbirth increases by 5%.
High environmental temperatures and heatwaves are more than just a weather inconvenience as they could be linked to poor pregnancy results, research suggests. Women who are exposed to such heat could go through premature births, experience low birth weight or stillbirths.
As the climate turns warmer, this has been found to take effect on the health of many—including pregnant women—according to a new study from a BMJ journal published on Wednesday (4 November). Matthew Chersich and his team of researchers have conducted this study to figure out whether pregnancy results can be linked to hot weather.
Increasing Hot Days Affecting Pregnancy Results
Chersich and his team looked into 70 studies in 27 countries that have found links between high temperatures and poor pregnancy results. The outcome of their study showed hot environmental temperatures have adverse effects on pregnancies such as premature birth, stillbirth and low birth weight.
The researchers took into account that 15 million babies are born each year prematurely—the leading cause of death among children under 5-years-old—as reported by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Out of the 47 studies that were assessed, 40 reported that premature births were more common during hot days. The results showed that per 1°C increase in the weather’s temperature, the chances of premature birth rose by 5% and even reached 16% during heatwave days.
It was also found that for every 1°C rise in temperature, the risk of stillbirth increases by 5%. Most of the results showed that the link between hot weathers and stillbirth could be seen either in the last month or week of pregnancy.
Meanwhile, only little effect of hot days was seen on the weight of the child. Although the researchers say, “even apparently minor decrements in birth weight could have a major impact on public health as exposure to high temperatures is common and escalating.”
In addition, the study also suggests that pregnant women in low and middle-income countries are the most at risk of the adverse effects of hot weather in pregnancies due to their heat exposure.
Links To Poor Pregnancy Results Don’t End With Just Hot Weather
Meanwhile, researchers noted that there were limitations to their study as they factor in air pollution, which can be another cause of poor pregnancy outcomes. They also acknowledged how there might be differences in temperature between the studies, so it would be hard to confirm the role of weather in pregnancy results.
Despite this, they consider their findings an improvement on the study, saying: “This review suggests that exposures to high temperature might be associated with birth outcomes, with evidence most consistent and effect sizes largest for preterm birth and stillbirth.”
“Overall, the review highlights the need to identify interventions targeting heat-related conditions in pregnant women, especially in women at the age extremes and in lower socioeconomic groups, and to determine their effectiveness,” researches added.