Outdoor Air Pollution and Pregnancy – 5 Steps to Protect Your Baby

It’s been a standard of public health for decades that pregnant women should not smoke, but there are also other air pollutants it’s best not breathe.
Author:
Updated:
Original:

Air Pollution and Pregnancy

It’s been a standard of public health for decades that pregnant women should not smoke, but there are also other air pollutants it’s best not breathe. One of the most common sources of outdoor air pollution comes from vehicle exhaust and there are numerous studies showing how this type of exposure can negatively impact fetal health. For example, women who live in areas with high traffic pollution are more likely to give birth to preterm babies and have low birth weight babies. Their babies are also at higher risk of mortality from respiratory death, congenital heart defects, and having a lower IQ.

How can you protect your baby from outdoor air pollution? Follow these easy steps to help you and your baby breathe easier when you’re bound for the great outdoors:

1. Follow outdoor air quality advisory warnings. Check out AirNow.gov to learn about your local air quality index. You can even sign up to get email or cell phone notices when the air is especially unhealthy. Limit your exposure to pollution by limiting outdoor activities; especially exercise, on days when air quality is poor.

2. Avoid peak hours of pollution. If you can, reduce your exposure to pollutants by staying indoors during peak traffic times and in the late afternoon, when the heat of the day can decrease air quality.

3. Reroute walks. Walking is one of the most perfect forms of exercise for pregnant women, so get some strides in daily if you can. Try to find a nice wooded space like a park or even a peaceful cemetery since trees help purify the air. If that’s not available, at least find routes away from highly trafficked roads. Pollutant density decreases every foot you’re away from the traffic corridor, says Barbara MacKinnon of the New Brunswick Lung Association. This tip also applies to driving – find less traveled routes to reduce your exposure and don’t tail large trucks or buses.

4. If you live near a busy road, keep your windows and doors closed during peak hours and look into buying an air purifier.

5. Drink plenty of fluids to keep your respiratory tract moist. This helps keep it in tip-top shape to battle environmental assaults.

While the most common outdoor air pollutant exposure is from vehicle exhaust, many people also live by industrial facilities, which can cause their own air quality issues. Enter your zip code at Score Card to find out if there are any other pollutants you should be aware of. Concerned by what you might be exposed to? Talk with your doctor.

And remember, do your part to reduce air pollution by driving less and buying less. (Put the money you’ll save into a diaper fund – you’re going to need a lot of them soon!)

Related

iStock_000002157757XSmall

6 Steps to Reduce Exposure to Synthetic Hormones in Food

Hormones are responsible for much more than just acne in teenagers and mood swings in pregnant women.

Enlist Your Kids!

My Favorite 5 Easy Steps For Safer Cleaning

Have you made the switch to homemade cleaners yet? I know more and more parents who are – not only because it’s better for their family’s health and the environment, but also because it’s a lot cheaper.

Tub

9 Better Baby Lotions and Potions You Can Make in Minutes

What you put on your skin can end up in your body, so you should choose personal care products with the same attention you give to choosing healthy foods. Better yet – make your own products by using ingredients that are safe enough to eat!

Mother and son cooking

The Top Ten Easy Ways to Eat "Green"

Everyone's heard the cliché "you are what you eat." And, it's true - your health is intimately connected to the foods and drinks you put in your body. But, have you ever stopped to consider what other impacts your food choices may have?

WINDOW

10-Minute Healthy Home Makeover

No matter how busy you are, now there are no excuses for not making a healthier home. Here’s how you can make a significant difference in only 10 minutes!

The Top 10 Toxic Products You Don’t Need

Here are ten toxic products, in no particular order, that you don’t need. And, once you read about them, you probably won’t want them either.

iStock_000010171194XSmall

Get Your Child’s School or Day Care Center to Clean Green

You've made the switch to safer cleaners at home, but what about when your child is off at daycare or school?

Healthy Eating for the Holidays: Better for You, Better for the Planet

I love holiday food just as much as the next person. But, I really want to be smarter – for my kids, the planet, and me. Here are the tips and tools I’m going to try this year. Join me in making this holiday season healthier for everyone!