LONDON (UK) – After extensive study, scientists have shed light on the large number of miscarriage’s and still births in India. They have attributed it to toxic air .
The study follows a Lancet report last month which linked India’s bad air quality to 1.67 million deaths or 18% of all its deaths in 2019, up from 1.24 million deaths in 2017. It also estimated nearly 350,000 pregnancy losses a year in South Asia were linked to high pollution levels, accounting for 7% of annual pregnancy loss in the region between 2000 and 2016.
South Asia has the highest rate of pregnancy loss globally and some of the worst air pollution in the world.
“Our findings … (provide) further justification for urgent action to tackle dangerous levels of pollution,” lead author Tao Xue of Peking University said in a statement.
The analysis found pollution led to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, respiratory infections, lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, neonatal disorders and cataracts.
As part of the study the Chinese research team looked at data for 34,197 mothers in South Asia, who had had at least one miscarriage or stillbirth and one or more live births. It found that three-quarters of the women were from India with the rest split between Pakistan and Bangladesh.
The study estimated that mother’s were exposed to concentrations of PM2.5 – tiny particles found in dust, soot and smoke that can lodge in the lungs and enter the bloodstream.
They calculated that 7.1% of annual pregnancy losses were attributable to pollution above India’s air quality standard of 40 microgrammes per cubic metre (μg/m³), and 29·7% to pollution above the World Health Organization guideline of 10 μg/m³.
Co-author Tianjia Guan of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences pointed that reducing miscarriages and stillbirths may lead to improvements in gender equality as pregnancy loss had mental, physical and economic impacts on women.
India’s capital New Delhi is currently the world’s most polluted capital, adding to this is the dismal fact that India’s cities top global pollution lists.
Factors adding to the country’s filthy air include industry, vehicle exhaust fumes, coal-fired power plants, building site dust and the burning of crop residue.