In Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, pregnant women are at a higher risk of stillbirths and miscarriages because of their exposure to air pollution.
In fact, a study published in Lancet Planetary Health, a peer-reviewed journal, says that air pollution has been associated with a significant proportion of pregnancy losses in these three South Asian countries from 2000-2016. This study was the first to quantify the impact of air pollution on pregnancy loss in South Asia.
According to this study, nearly 349,681 pregnancy losses per year, which accounted for 7% of annual pregnancy loss in the region between 2000 and 2016, were associated with exposure to PM2.5 in these countries.
PM2.5 are tiny particles or droplets that can travel deep into the respiratory tract and reach the lungs. These particles are roughly thirty times smaller in width than an average human hair.
It is worth noting here that World Air Quality Report named Bangladesh as the world’s most polluted country for PM2.5 exposure in 2019.
The study found that the risks of miscarriages and stillbirths in these countries could be cut down by improving air quality. According to the study, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan can avoid nearly 29.7% pregnancy losses if these countries meet the World Health Organization’s (WHO) air pollution standards, i.e. 10 μg/m3.
Tao Xue, the lead author of the study, said: “Our findings suggest that poor air quality could be responsible for a considerable burden of pregnancy loss in the region, providing further justification for urgent action to tackle dangerous levels of pollution.”