London: A recent study by Tel Aviv University researchers has provided new evidence linking high exposure to air pollution to an increased risk of congenital malformations.
"Our results suggest that exposure to higher levels of air pollution during pregnancy is associated with various adverse pregnancy outcomes," said professor Liat Lerner-Geva from the university's Sackler Faculty of Medicine and School of Public Health.
For the study, the research team analysed data on 216,730 people born in Israel between 1997 and 2004.
Air pollution data was obtained from air-monitoring stations for the study period.
Using a geographic information system, exposure to air pollution during both the first trimester and the entire pregnancy was assessed for each woman according to her place of residence.
They found that exposure to air pollutants throughout full-term pregnancies were associated with an increased risk of congenital malformations, with specific defects evident in the circulatory system and genital organs.
They also discovered that exposure to air pollution was associated, although not significantly, with a higher risk of congenital defects.
The research was published in the journal Environmental Research.
This database will serve as a basis for a future larger study to identify susceptible sub-populations at higher risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, the authors concluded.