The air breathed outside the home could be just as toxic to pregnant women – or more so- than breathing in cigarette smoke.

According to recent research, pollution could increase the risk of developing potentially deadly conditions including preeclampsia.
The University of Florida study compared birth data with air pollution estimates provided by the Environmental Protection Agency. They found that heavy exposure to four pollutants increased the risk of developing high blood pressure in pregnancy. The study was published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health in January.

Problematic pollutants

The pollutants identified included two types of fine and coarse particulate matter, sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide. The particulate matter included dust, metals, soil particles and acids. These particles are inhalable and spread from industrial production and forest fires although they can form when gases collide in the air. Carbon monoxide is generally caused by cars, while Sulfur dioxide is emitted during manufacturing processes.
During the research data from more than 22,000 pregnant women was examined. Researchers estimated how much pollution the women had been exposed to during their pregnancies using EPA daily pollution levels.
It was discovered that 4.7 per cent developed a form of hypertension during their pregnancy. Air pollution was found to be a factor behind women developing high blood pressure. Women who were exposed to pollution in the first two trimesters were found to be twice as likely to develop a high blood pressure related condition. It didn’t appear to make a difference whether women were exposed earlier or later in pregnancy to the pollution.
Hypertension in pregnancy is associated with increased morbidity of the fetus, as well as premature births. Hypertensive disorders including gestational hypertension, preeclampsia and the potentially fatal end condition eclampsia which affect around 1 in 10 pregnancies.
The conclusion appears to be that stricter control of air quality is important when it comes to reducing a woman’s risk of developing high blood pressure in pregnancy. Further research is needed to establish the effect breathing contaminated air has on the fetus.

Snoring in Pregnancy can cause Hypertension

Pregnant women who snore are more at risk from high blood pressure, according to a report published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. The researchers found that frequent snoring was a factor in high blood pressure problems after taking other risk factors into consideration. The study is the largest ever undertaken and looked at 1700 pregnant women. Habitual snoring which is classified as snoring more than three or four times a week was found to double the risk of getting high blood pressure.
By treating any underlying sleep-disorders in pregnancy, it is felt that hypertensive disorders can be reduced. Ways to treat these kinds of sleep disorders could include using devices that keep the airways open during the night and research on this is already underway.

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