Skip 
Navigation Link

1215 South Walnut Ave.
Demopolis, AL 36732 map map 

Access to Care: 1-800-239-2901

Health Policy & Advocacy
Resources
Basic InformationMore InformationLatest News
Brand-Name Rx Rise After Docs Get Drug Company Perks: StudyAs Prices Rise for Parkinson's, Alzheimer's Meds, Patients Go WithoutRoll Up Your Sleeve and Donate Blood for Cancer PatientsShotguns Often Play Tragic Role in Rural Teens' Suicides: StudyPrice Hikes Have Patients Turning to Craigslist for Insulin, Asthma InhalersConsumers Waste Twice as Much Food as Experts ThoughtStricter Clean Air Laws Could Save Thousands of Lives a Year: StudyCaregivers Give Short Shrift to Their Own HealthMedicare Could Save Billions If Allowed to Negotiate Insulin PricesDentists Among Top Prescribers of OpioidsBedside 'Sitters' May Not Prevent Hospital FallsDoes Race Play a Part in ICU Outcomes?When Pharmacists Allowed to Give Anti-Opioid Med Without Rx, Access SoarsNew Study Supports Lowering Age of First ColonoscopyAgeism Affects People Around the GlobeLife Expectancy in U.S. Increases for First Time in 4 YearsJust 1% of Doctors Prescribe Nearly Half of Opioids in U.S.AHA News: These Doctors Want to Write 'Farmacy' PrescriptionsCan Online Reviews Help Health Inspectors Keep Tabs on Restaurants?AHA News: Can Social Media Be Good for Your Health?Flame Retardants, Pesticides Remain Threat to U.S. Health: StudySimple Tweak to Hospital Computer Program Cuts Opioid PrescriptionsJust 2% of Patients Who Need It Get Anti-Opioid Drug NaloxoneAre Doctors Discarding 'Injured' Kidneys That Might Be Used for Transplant?Probiotics: Don't Buy the Online HypeNew Drugs Getting FDA's Blessing Faster, but Is That a Good Thing?Would Tighter Swimming Rules at Public Beaches, Lakes and Rivers Save Lives?Seniors Still Wary of Online Reviews When Picking DoctorsMany Drugstores Misinform on Disposal of Unused MedsAHA News: Get Started on the Path to Better Health in the New YearAHA News: Bystander CPR Less Common in Hispanic NeighborhoodsPrepared Bystanders Save Lives When Cardiac Arrest StrikesVaccinations Rose After California Curbed ExemptionsSpecial 'Invisible' Dye Could Serve as Skin's Vaccination RecordGrowing Obesity Rates May Contribute to Climate ChangeHealth Tip: Do's and Don'ts While Waiting for an AmbulanceFDA to Allow States to Import Prescription Drugs From Other CountriesWhere Pot Is Legal, People Are Likely to Believe Its BenefitsFewer Americans Have a Primary Care Doctor NowHospital-Level Care in Your Home? It Could Be the FutureSleepy Nurses Could Put Patients at RiskTighter Alcohol Laws Might Help Curb CancerMany Young Adults Misusing Medical Marijuana, Study SuggestsAnother Possible Effect of Climate Change: More Preemie Babies1 in 18 U.S. Teens Carries a Gun to School: StudyU.S. Poison Centers Field More Calls About Psychoactive Substances: StudyDoctors' Group Calls for Ban on Most Vaping ProductsAs Disease Outbreaks Tied to 'Anti-Vaxxers' Rise, States Take ActionAHA News: Millions Who Never Smoked Cigarettes Are Using Other Tobacco ProductsMost Docs Don't Know Hair Care Is a Barrier to Exercise for Black Women
Questions and AnswersVideosLinksBook Reviews
Related Topics

Health Insurance
Healthcare

Another Possible Effect of Climate Change: More Preemie Babies

HealthDay News
by By E.J. Mundell
HealthDay Reporter
Updated: Dec 2nd 2019

new article illustration

MONDAY, Dec. 2, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Rising temperatures might help trigger premature birth, a new study finds, suggesting that global warming could deliver more "preemie" babies.

Looking at 20 years of data on heat waves and birth timing across the United States, researchers "estimate that an average of 25,000 infants per year were born earlier as a result of heat exposure."

Taken another way, the research suggests that each year, American women lose a total 150,000 "gestational days" due to excess heat -- days that could otherwise have been used bringing baby to a healthy term delivery.

"These findings are important given the emerging evidence that early-life health has a lasting effect on health and cognitive outcomes" for children, said study co-authors Alan Barreca, of the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at University of California, Los Angeles, and Jessamyn Schaller of Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, Calif.

One ob-gyn unconnected to the new study believes the findings don't bode well for a warming planet.

"Climate change has caused increase in the exposure of pregnant women to extremes of heat, especially in the warmer climates and in areas with an inability to shelter pregnant women from the heat," said Dr. Mitchell Kramer. He's chair of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwell Health's Huntington Hospital in Huntington, N.Y.

Prior research has already suggested that spikes in temperature can lead to an "increase in preterm birth, as well as lower birth weight, and stillbirth," Kramer said.

"More study needs to be done," he said, "but certainly we must help protect pregnant women from extremes of heat as well as work on the causes of climate change."

The new research was published Dec. 2 in the journal Nature Climate Change. In their report, investigators Barreca and Schaller analyzed U.S. government data on weather and birth rates for the years 1969 to 1988.

The data involved a total of 56 million births occurring in counties across the United States.

"We estimate that birth rates increase by 5% on days with maximum temperatures about 90 degrees Fahrenheit," the researchers wrote, though the study could not prove that high temperatures actually caused premature deliveries.

That worked out to 25,000 U.S. births per year that had "some reduction in gestational length," they concluded. The average reduction was about six days, "although some births experience a loss of two weeks," they noted.

How does a very hot day boost the odds of premature birth? According to Barreca and Schaller, "one possible channel for these effects is that heat increases levels of oxytocin, which is a key hormone regulating the onset of delivery." Heat might also put stress on a pregnant woman's cardiovascular system, which may also help trigger early delivery.

Of course, the impact of rising global temperatures on infant health may depend on a pregnant woman's income -- and her access to air conditioning, the researchers said.

So, air conditioning use in billions of homes around the world is expected to rise. However, the emissions generated by power plants to supply all that extra air conditioning will, in turn, boost global warming, the researchers added.

More information

For more about preterm infants, visit the March of Dimes.