‘Toxic air concern for pregnant women, newborns’

  • | Saturday | 18th November, 2023

NOIDA: Many women in the advanced stages of pregnancy have been facing breathing difficulty because of deteriorating air quality. Doctors said expecting mothers anyway felt nauseous and lethargic, and breathing distress only compounded the problems.The toxic air is also a cause for concern for newbornsas lungs are still not developed fully in the first few weeks.Long exposure to polluted air could lead to lung ailments in the future, doctors said.Lung capacity of pregnant women gets compromised due to hormonal changes and upward movement of the uterus. So, when the air quality is poor, they can feel breathlessness. Some women have pre-existing allergies, which get aggravated during poor AQI due to low immunity, Dr Pratibha Singhal, director of obstetrics and gynecology at Cloudnine Hospital in Noida, told TOI.Doctors said it is mandatory for pregnant women to exercise moderately. However, due to hazardous air quality, outdoor activity must be curtailed.Were advising pregnant women to exercise indoors and nebulize if they feel short of breath. Anti-allergens can also be taken under the supervision of a doctor to control the situation. If moving out is mandatory, a good quality face mask must be used, Dr Singhal added.Neonatologists pointed out that poor air quality also impacts the health of a newborn and may lead to chronic breathing problems.Air pollution, they said, increases the risk of low birth weight and preterm delivery. Lower respiratory tract infections, diarrheal illnesses, brain damage and inflammation, blood disorders, and jaundice are among the health issues that babies born prematurely are more likely to face. Dr Amit Gupta, a senior consultant paediatrician and neonatologist at Motherhood Hospital, Noida, said, Particles and gaseous pollutants can enter the bloodstream of babies through the nose and directly attach to olfactory neurons in the olfactory bulb, or they can enter the bloodstream indirectly through the lungs and cross the blood-brain barrier. Infants inhale more rapidly at birth, which causes respiratory and lung-related illnesses or disorders during this time. It may also stunt the lung function until puberty.Overexposure to ambient air pollution can also lead to chronic brain inflammation, oxidative stress, and microglia activation and has been linked to cognitive decline and neurodevelopment issues in kids.Air pollution, particularly fine particles, can lead to insulin resistance and panniculitis inflammation. Higher ambient air pollution levels have been linked to an increased risk of obesity and high blood pressure in children and adolescents, doctors said.

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