(ABC) -- Air pollution, such as dense smog that blanketed one quarter of China in January, has long been known as a public health hazard.
New research reported in “Environmental Health Perspectives” points to some of those most vulnerable.
In the largest study of its kind, researchers analyzed three million births in nine countries. They found that pregnant women who breathe in high levels of air pollution increase their risk of having babies with low birth weight.
And low birth weight, in turn, is associated with higher infant mortality, as well as diseases in childhood and in adult life.
The authors note that air pollution is also associated with other pregnancy complications such as slowing a fetus’ growth, premature birth and stillbirth.