Pregnant women exposed to wildfire smoke during Southern California’s epic 2003 fire season had babies with lower birth weights, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health have found.
The scientists examined birth records in areas affected by smoke from seven fires that altogether consumed 750,000 acres. The differences in the newborns’ weights were small, slightly less than 10 grams for those exposed during the second trimester of the pregnancy, but the finding was significant. The study shows that climate change can affect health, and this finding is important to remember given that wildfires are expected to become more frequent as the planet warms.
Dr. Rachel Morello-Frosch, associate professor at the School of Public Health, is co-author in the study.
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[Photo: Dr. Rachel Morello-Frosch]