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Heatwaves Linked To Increase In Preterm Births, Study Finds

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Heatwaves Linked To Increase In Preterm Births, Study Finds

(CTN News) – A new study has revealed a troubling link between heatwaves and preterm births, raising concerns about the impact of climate change on maternal and infant health.

The research indicates that extreme heat events, which are becoming more frequent and intense due to the climate crisis, significantly increase the likelihood of preterm births, particularly among Black and Hispanic mothers and those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Nevada, examined 53 million births across 50 metropolitan areas in the United States from 1993 to 2017.

Preterm Birth Risk

The findings show that following four consecutive days of high temperatures, there is a 2% increase in the chance of preterm births and a 1% rise in early-term births.

This data underscores the vulnerability of pregnant individuals to heat stress, which can lead to adverse health outcomes for both mothers and their babies.

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“[The findings] suggest there are populations that are unable to avoid the heat and are experiencing much bigger effects,” said Lyndsey Darrow, the study’s lead author and a professor of epidemiology.

She emphasized that those with less access to air conditioning and fewer resources to mitigate heat exposure are disproportionately affected.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that pregnant people are among the most susceptible to heat stress, with a heightened risk of heat stroke and heat exhaustion.

These conditions can negatively impact unborn babies by inducing labor prematurely through mechanisms such as the release of labor-inducing hormones, reduced blood flow, and dehydration.

Urgent Need for Better Support and Guidance for Pregnant Individuals During Extreme Heat

Preterm birth is a leading cause of infant mortality and is linked to various long-term health issues, including respiratory and neurodevelopmental disorders.

The study’s findings highlight the urgent need for better guidance and support for pregnant individuals during periods of extreme heat.

Nathaniel DeNicola, an OB-GYN specialist and author of a 2020 report on air pollution and preterm births, advocates for increased counseling and educational materials to help expecting parents manage heat stress.

“In pregnancy, we err on the side of caution,” he said. “There should be extra counseling in clinics and general materials about ways to protect from dehydration and heat stress during times of extreme heat, which is getting more and more common.”

As climate change continues to drive extreme weather events, addressing the health risks associated with heatwaves is critical.

This study calls for immediate action to provide targeted advice and resources to vulnerable populations to protect maternal and infant health in a warming world.

Arsi Mughal is a staff writer at CTN News, delivering insightful and engaging content on a wide range of topics. With a knack for clear and concise writing, he crafts articles that resonate with readers. Arsi's pieces are well-researched, informative, and presented in a straightforward manner, making complex subjects accessible to a broad audience. His writing style strikes the perfect balance between professionalism and casual approachability, ensuring an enjoyable reading experience.

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