Sustainability Climate Change

New studies link global warming to early births and effects on babies’ health

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Story at a glance

  • A series of studies examining the impacts of climate change on mothers, fetuses and infants was recently published in a special edition of the journal Pediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology.
  • Some of the studies found a link between climate change and an increasing number of premature births, as well as increasing temperatures and fast weight gain in infants.
  • Researchers used data from women and children living in the United States, Canada, Australia, Denmark and India for the studies.

Climate change is increasing the number of premature births and negatively impacting the health of infants, according to half a dozen studies published in a special issue of the journal Pediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology.

Researchers have found evidence that suggests increasing temperatures caused by climate change are linked to early births as well as fast weight gain in babies, which can increase their risk of obesity as adults, the studies claim.  

In addition, the studies suggest exposure to smoke from wildfires has doubled the risk of severe birth defects, and connected air pollution from fossil fuel burning to lower fertility. 


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“From the very beginning, from preconception, through early childhood into adolescence, we’re starting to see important impacts of climate hazards on health,” professor Gregory Wellenius at Boston University’s school of public health told The Guardian. Wellenius edited the special issue along with Amelia Wesselink, a post-doctoral associate in epidemiology also at the university’s school of public health.  

“This is a problem that affects everybody, everywhere. These extreme events are going to become even more likely and more severe with continued climate change [and this research shows] why they’re important to us, not in the future, but today,” he added.  

The studies were conducted by researchers from across the globe examining the impacts of climate change on women, fetuses and infants in the United States, Australia, Denmark, Canada and India.  


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