An investigation published in the Journal of American Medical Association found that negative pregnancy outcomes are linked to climate change across the United States.

Data going back to 2007 analyzed 32 million births and 82% of births showed a statistically significant association between increased heat exposure and air pollution and serious pregnancy risks including low birth weight, stillbirth, and preterm birth. Medical experts are calling it a monumental study.

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“The more you dig, you could really say there’s a whole generation of children being born like ‘pre-polluted,’” said Dr. Nathaniel DeNicola, MD, MSHP, the senior author of the study. Scientists now have more data that shows how climate change is linked to health, specifically as it relates to pregnancy. Study authors are also sharing that this research is not isolated to a certain part of the United States, it’s a nation-wide issue.

“We spend so much time trying to reduce complications in obstetrics and improve outcomes, that to me this is a landmark study,” said Dr. Jeanne Conry, MD, PhD, past president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), current CEO/founder of the Environmental Health Leadership Foundation, and president-elect of the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics, “[The investigation shows] that there is a clear association of prenatal exposure of air pollutants and health outcomes – children’s health outcomes…Here, we’re saying, the air we breathe affects deliveries.”

Black mothers specifically have the highest risk, but minority groups and those with asthma are also at higher risk. To take action, the authors have urged the United States to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, as well as enact policies for better working conditions and air quality.

Read more about health and climate change in One Green Planet, check out these articles:

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