Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Followup in Southern California: Decreased Birth Weight Following Prenatal Wildfire Smoke Exposure

Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Followup in Southern California: Decreased Birth Weight Following Prenatal Wildfire Smoke Exposure

Article excerpt

In fall 2003 wildfires blazed in Southern California, sending pollutant-laden smoke directly into the heavily populated Los Angeles and Orange counties. A new study of birth records from the area shows a decreased average birth weight among infants carried in utero during the wildfires [EHP 120(9):1340-1345; Holstius et al.].

Chronic maternal exposure to ambient particulate matter (PM) and indoor biomass smoke during pregnancy has been linked to decreased infant birth weight, although similar effects attributable to wildfire smoke have been little studied. In this study, researchers analyzed 886,034 birth records of babies delivered between 2001 and 2005 in the South Coast Air Basin, an area that overlaps the wildfire-affected regions. They compared the average birth weight of infants carried in utero during the wildfires with that of infants who were either born before or conceived after the wildfires. They also compared birth weights of infants exposed during the first, second, and third trimesters of pregnancy.

After adjusting for infant sex, gestational age at birth, and other factors known to influence birth weight, the researchers found that exposed infants weighed an average of 6.1 g (0.2 oz) less at birth than unexposed infants. Infants exposed during the second trimester showed the largest average reduction, at 9.7 g. Infants exposed during the third trimester showed an average reduction of 7.0 g, and those exposed during the first trimester showed an average reduction of 3. …

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