Air Pollution can Increase Risk of Silent Miscarriages


Fetus death risk reduction is included in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. High levels of air pollution increase the chances of miscarriage in pregnant women.

Air pollution causes the release of pollutants into the air that are detrimental to human health and the planet as a whole. A missed or silent miscarriage is when a fetus dies or stops developing during pregnancy, usually without any symptoms. Such miscarriages tend to happen in the first trimester, and can be picked up on 12-week scans. Miscarriage may occur in up to 15% of all clinically recognized pregnancies, especially in developing countries, and the scientists say that determining whether or not air pollution increases the risk of miscarriage is important.

Pregnant woman who were exposed to air pollutants such as particulate matter (PM) 2.5, sulfur dioxide (SO2), ozone (O3) and carbon monoxide (CO) suffered missed abortion in the first trimester (MAFT) or missed miscarriage. The presence of 10 micrograms per cubic meter of sulfur dioxide in the air, emitted from power plants and vehicles exhausts, increased the chances of miscarriage.

Most human-made air pollutants are extremely small: Particulate matter is about the diameter of a hair, and ultrafine particulate matter is even smaller. It’s so tiny, in fact, it can travel from the lungs into our blood and circulate in the brain. Researchers believe that the pollutant crosses the blood barrier and disturbs fetal growth and development. They also found that pollutants entering the bloodstream of the fetus may interact with tissue which could lead to ‘irreversible damage’ to the cells of the fetus.

Pregnant women or those who want to become pregnant, must protect themselves from air pollution exposure not only for their own health but also for the health of their fetuses.

Shajedul Islam
Student (Final Year)
Environmental Science and Disaster Management
Noakhali Science and Technology University