New research from the University of Utah links poor air quality to a higher risk in pregnancy loss.
“There are harmful effects to the pollution that we’re all exposed to and that we all contribute to,” said Matthew Fuller, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Utah and the senior author on new research. “None of us are going to solve this problem unless we’re all willing to sacrifice together.”
Fuller said his interest in the topic began when noticed an association in his personal and work life with miscarriages and air pollution.
“The impetus for this study was that I had some close family members lose a pregnancy after a particularly poor period of air quality,” Fuller said. “And then I noticed in the emergency department I was seeing more women present with miscarriage in early pregnancy during and shortly after periods of poor air.”
The study found that there is a 16 percent increased risk for miscarriage in women who were exposed to above average nitrogen dioxide levels during a seven-day period.
“And this is something that is particularly relevant to Utah and the Wasatch Front. But not just our geographic area,” Fuller said. “Our problems are not unique to Utah. Air quality is an issue all across the world, both in the developing world and the developed world. This is an issue that confronts us all.”
Fuller said he hoped this research spurs additional studies.
“This was a retrospective study,” he said. “If we find a compelling reason we then design a prospective study — so looking forward in the future. So that would mean collecting data on women who haven’t yet been exposed to poor air quality but have the potential to be exposed in the near future.”
This is something that impacts all Utahns, Fuller said.
“So my hope that this kind of is a call to action for people. Especially in a family friendly state like Utah, I think we all need to be concerned about things like this because this affects us all. If poor air is affecting the health of an unborn child, we need to collectively do something about that.”