A new article in Nature Climate Change has found that high temperature exposure increases the delivery risk for pregnant women. The heat causes them to have shorter pregnancies, this could cause infant health and development issues.

On days when temperatures are above 90 degrees Fahrenheit-much more common now with the changing climate-birth rates were 5% higher. In addition, those births were often an average of pregnancies that ended 6.1 days earlier on average. Some of those pregnancies were up to two weeks early. This could mean that one out of every 100 births by 2100 will be affected.

Lead author Alan Bareca said of the study in a UCLA press release, “That’s enough to take somebody from what’s considered to be a pretty healthy pregnancy into a ‘we are somewhat worried’ pregnancy.”

Researchers aren’t sure why the heat causes the early deliveries, but they know it’s not good for the babies. It could be related to oxytocin, a hormone that’s part of labor and delivery, and that higher levels in the body are due to heat. Or heat causes additional stress on the mother.

Bareca mentioned air conditioning as one way to solve the heating problem for pregnant women. But economic and racial disparities make air conditioning unavailable to many people. Not to mention that air conditioning is a cause of emissions.

A ob-gyn, Dr. Mitchell Kramer, not involved in the study told Health Day of the findings,” More study needs to be done, but certainly we must help protect pregnant women from extremes of heat as well as work on the causes of climate change.”

Read more about the changing climate in One Green Planet, including ocean heat waves, city leaders taking steps to curb climate change, and increased diseases linked to climate change.

The United Nation recently released a report warning countries about the dangers of climate change and has urged people to eat more plant-based as a way to curb it. We highly recommend downloading the Food Monster App — with over 15,000 delicious recipes it is the largest meatless, plant-based, vegan and allergy-friendly recipe resource to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy! And, while you are at it, we encourage you to also learn about the environmental and health benefits of a plant-based diet

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