Pregnancy and pollution – your child’s at risk

Pregnancy and pollution – your child’s at risk

New research has shown a link between pregnant women living near heavy traffic and breathing problems for children. Find out more about the dangers associated with pollution when pregnant as well the best ways to safeguard yourself and your child.

When a pregnant woman lives near heavy traffic, her child has a significantly higher chance of developing breathing problems at an early age, new research has shown. We examine the dangers of pollution and how you can reduce your exposure.

Living near a highway is not always the most desirable place to live. However, many families in Singapore have little choice about where they live. Those faced with a high cost of living when raising kids simply don't have a choice about location. Owning a home surrounded by greenery and parks is often an impossible dream.

breathing problems Heavy traffic responsible for pollution often causes breathing problems

No choice for mothers

Unfortunately, those who are forced to live near busy, polluted areas are faced with potential health risks, especially breathing problems. We examine new research findings and give you tips on keeping your child’s lungs smoke free.

The risks proven

Here are some alarming findings made by Boston researchers. Children under the age of 3 are more at risk to bronchiolitis, pneumonia, or croup when a mother lives near built up roads or highways during pregnancy. The closer the pregnant mother lives to heavy traffic, the higher the risk is for infants to develop breathing problems.

The families surveyed lived between 100 and 1,000 meters from a major highway. From these, around 53% of children were diagnosed with a breathing problems by the age of 3.

More worryingly, children born from mothers that lived 100 to 200 meters away from the highway were 1.49 times more at risk than those that lived the furthest away.

Learn more about the global problem of pollution in this video

Autism and pollution

Previous research has also found a link between autism and pollution. Children are up to 3 times more likely to be diagnosed with autism when living in the most polluted areas.

We all know that pollution is bad for our health, especially for young children. These findings further reinforce this fact. It is also a reminder to mothers that even in the womb, a baby is vulnerable to the outside world.

Tips to protect your child

In Singapore, pollution often seems unavoidable. But there are ways to protect both ourselves and our children. Here’s our best pollution defence tips:

1. Avoid smoking and smoking areas.  Smoke from a cigarettes contains over 7,000 chemicals. Second hand smoke is proven to cause a whole host of breathing problems for children, such as coughing, asthma attacks and pneumonia. Other health risks for exposed children include ear infections, cancer and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

2. Close all windows and doors during the busiest traffic hours. A simple, yet effective way of keeping the smog out of your home. For added protection, make sure all windows are double glazed. This will not only help you and your child’s lungs, but it’ll also help the planet too.

3. Plan your walking routes around traffic. Sure, it’s always tempting to take the shortcut. But on days where you have a little extra time, plan your walking route through areas with trees (which purify air) and parks. It may take a little longer but you'll avoid the smog whilst also getting a bit of exercise too!

4. Keep up to date with the latest air recordings and environmental news in Singapore. Air pollution is always changing from day to day. On the most polluted days, perhaps plan something that doesn't involve too much outdoor activity. Find out more here. 

5. Use an anti-pollution face mask. Most of the pollution you breathe in comes from a car exhaust. Wearing a face mask is a good way to protect yourself, particularly when walking on roads with heavy traffic.

RELATED: 4 ways to keep indoor pollution at bay

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Written by

Wafa Marican

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