Heatwaves Increase Risks of Early Births and Poorer Health in Babies

(VitalNews.org) – According to a new study, heatwaves increase the rates of preterm births, which can lead to poorer health and could impact long-term health in babies.

Black and Hispanic mothers and those who are in lower socioeconomic groups have a higher risk of delivering their babies following heat waves. Extreme heat waves are happening much more frequently and they are lasting longer due to the climate crisis effects. Last year in July, there were record-breaking temperatures that lasted for four days globally and included the hottest day ever recorded.

This is particularly dangerous for pregnant women because they are more prone to heat stress and are more likely to experience heat exhaustion and heat stroke, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Lyndsey Darrow, author of the study and professor of epidemiology at the University of Nevada, said, “The findings suggest there are populations that are unable to avoid the heat and are experiencing much bigger effects.”

The researchers looked at over fifty million births that happened between 1993 and 2017 in all fifty states in the US. During this study, they found that after consecutive high-heat days, women were two percent more likely to have a premature birth and a one percent increase in early-term births.

Darrow says, “The response is higher in subgroups that you might expect to have less access to air conditioning, and less ability to avoid the heat.”

Heat can trigger preterm contractions as it releases labor-inducing hormones, reduces blood flow, and can cause dehydration. Preterm birth is the leading cause of death within infants and it’s correlated with neurodevelopmental and respiratory outcomes throughout the child’s lifespan.

Research shows that there will be more targeted advice given to expecting parents on how to manage heat stress and heat exposure.

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