Review examines climate change’s impact on preterm birth and other outcomes


Climate change has been linked to several adverse health outcomes. A review examines its impact on pregnancy outcomes like preterm birth and low birth weight.

Climate change raises a lot of questions, like what sort of world will today’s children be given. There are also questions about what it means for the health of expectant mothers. A review in JAMA Network Open examines the effect of climate change on preterm births.1

The researchers did a search for primary literature in Cochrane Library, Cochrane Collaboration Registry of Controlled Trials, PubMed, website, and MEDLINE. The studies that qualified for inclusion had to have human participants in US populations, were in English, and were published between January 1, 2007, and April 30, 2019. There were 1851 articles found and 68 met the inclusion criteria.

The 68 studies analyzed 32,798,152 births, with an average of 565,485 births per study. There were 57 studies that showed a significant link between air pollutants (PM2.5) and heat exposure with birth outcomes. A positive association was found across all geographic regions in United States. In 19 of 24 studies, exposure to PM2.5 or ozone was linked with an increased risk of preterm birth. Low birth weight was associated with ozone and PM2.5 exposure in 25 of 29 studies. People with asthma and minority groups were at the highest risk.

Investigators concluded that environmental exposures like warmer temperatures and air pollutants that have become increasingly common because of climate change have significant associations with adverse outcomes in pregnancy.


1. Bekkar B, Pacheco S, Basu R, DeNicola N. Association of air pollution and heat exposure with preterm birth, low birth weight, and stillbirth in the US. JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(6):e208243. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.8243

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