Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Living Near Highways Can Increase Risk of Low-Birth Weight

The NY Times reports that a recent Canadian study shows that mothers who live near highways are more likely to give birth to low-weight and preterm babies. The study, which was published in Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, looked at medical records of nearly 100,000 births in Montreal from 1997 to 2001. Researchers measured distances to the nearest highways and determined socioeconomic and education levels from census data.
Researchers found that compared to wealthy neighborhoods, mothers who lived within 220 yards of a highway were linked to a 58 percent chance of preterm birth, and a 81 percent chance of increased risk of low-birth weight.
Dr. Mélissa Généreux, a resident physician at the University of Montreal mentions:
“Low-income mothers are exposed to more risk factors — smoking, poor nutrition, poor access to prenatal care, domestic violence. More advantaged mothers are protected from these risk factors, so they might be more affected by the addition of a single new risk factor, pollution from highways.”

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