Public Health

Study shows that ozone gas can encourage the birth of underweight children

According to researchers, this was the first survey conducted in mid-size cities in Brazil

Foto: Divulgação
Low birth weight baby receives medical care. Unitau Researchers believe this condition in infants can be caused by ozone pollution
Low birth weight baby receives medical care. Unitau Researchers believe this condition in infants can be caused by ozone pollution

A survey by the University of Taubaté, São Paulo, investigated the role of environmental pollutants as risk factors for low birth weight babies. The sampling was made from a medium-sized city in the Southeast, where, Sao Jose dos Campos. The study, Pulicat in the magazine of Public Health, Fiocruz, found that 99 newborns (3.95% of total sample analyzed) showed a reduction in weight due to ozone.

According to scholars, the work fills a gap in research on the effect of air pollutants in the weight of babies born in cities of medium size. They said most of the studies in this area were conducted in large urban centers. For research, we selected mothers with children between 20 and 34 years, with high school, seven or more prenatal consultations held, the first pregnancy and who opted for vaginal delivery.

Was considered low birth weight as less than 2.5 pounds. Furthermore, researchers have assumed that the pollutant concentrations were homogenous throughout the city and that all mothers were also exposed to them during the period analyzed. Since they were normal pregnancies, the mothers were free to move around the city, and since the concentrations were considered homogeneous, the exposure was constant, comment the researchers.

According to the researchers, the most important finding of this study, with results different from other studies conducted in Brazil, was the role of ozone in the low weight of newborns. The effect of ozone may involve inflammatory mechanisms. Pregnancy is accompanied by an increased alveolar ventilation, the researchers explain. Hyperventilation results in increased absorption of ozone, with an inflammatory response and release of lipid peroxidation products and cytokines. These agents can affect the circulation in the placenta and endanger fetal growth.

Scholars explain that the two main sources of sulfur dioxide released into the atmosphere are the industries that use coal and petroleum products and vehicles that use fossil fuels. With respect to ozone, the presence of the substance near the surface of the planet is due to photochemical reactions between other pollutants such as nitrogen oxidations involving the presence of sunlight.