Global warming could make pregnancies more dangerous

  • Women who are in their third trimester during the winter months tend to have better results

Global warming has been linked to higher rates of asthma, heart disease and other health concerns. Now, new research suggests that rising temperatures across the planet may put pregnant women at higher risk of serious pregnancy-related illnesses, especially in the third trimester.

And this is likely to get worse in the near future, said study author Anqi Jiao, a doctoral student at the University of California, Irvine. “Climate change will continue to impact all aspects of health with increasing severity and duration of extreme heat events,” she noted.

Severe maternal illness is a general term for 21 serious conditions that can include heart attacks, kidney failure, sudden cardiac arrest, heart failure, complications with anesthesia, blood infections, and the need for a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus), among other conditions. and complications.

“These women… would have died without proper and timely identification and intervention, but serious pregnancy-related illnesses are believed to be largely preventable,” Jiao said.

Additionally, these conditions can result in long-term treatments and recoveries and place a greater financial burden on families, he added.

It’s not fully understood how exposure to extreme heat causes serious pregnancy complications for expectant mothers, but researchers have some theories. Exposure to heat can lead to dehydration and an imbalance of minerals in the blood, which can cause inflammation, increased heart rate and other symptoms, Jiao said.

The study, published Sept. 7 in JAMA Network Open, included more than 403,000 pregnancies in Southern California from 2008 to 2018. Of these, 3,446 cases of serious pregnancy-related illnesses were reported.

Women who had the most exposure to extreme heat during their pregnancy had a 27% increased risk of experiencing a serious pregnancy-related illness, and pregnant women who were exposed to extreme heat during their third trimester had a 28% increased risk of experiencing serious pregnancy-related illness. risk of serious illness, the study showed.

Pregnant women with less education were also more vulnerable to heat exposure and related risks, the study showed.

“Doctors and society can provide further instructions or help them understand the potential effect of heat during their pregnancy and encourage them to take measures to protect themselves from extreme heat,” Jiao said.

If you are pregnant during a heat wave, especially during the third trimester, take precautions to protect your health. This includes seeking shade when temperatures soar, Jiao said. Dr. Nathaniel DeNicola has dedicated his career to studying the effects of the environment on pregnancy outcomes in mothers and babies.

He is an obstetrician-gynecologist at Caduceus Medical Group in Yorba Linda and Irvine, California and the environmental health expert for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The new study shows that the timing of exposure to high heat during pregnancy matters.

“Extreme heat in the third trimester poses a greater risk for pregnant women, especially when it occurs in the week before delivery,” said DeNicola, who was not involved in the research.

Women who are in their third trimester during the hottest days of summer (known in the United States as “dog days”) typically conceive from November to April, depending on where they live, she said. Women who are in their third trimester during the winter months tend to have better results, she said.

There is a lot to do to stay a few steps ahead of serious heat-related illnesses during pregnancy. To start, if you are pregnant during a heat wave, drink more water. “There’s no exact amount of water I recommend, but it’s important to stay well ahead of your thirst,” DeNicola said.

Look for ways to cool down during the day when the heat index is at its highest. “If you don’t have air conditioning where you live, consider cooling centers, museums or other indoor public spaces,” DeNicola said.