Over the last few months we’ve had more than our fair share of bad news to deal with. So it’s great to have something positive to share.
A new trend in neonatal hospitals
Since the beginning of lockdown, doctors in neonatal intensive care units all over the world have witnessed something quite unusual. The number of babies born prematurely has dropped dramatically.
A significant fall in preemies
This spring, Dr Roy Philip, a neonatologist at the University Maternity Hospital in Limerick, Ireland, noticed a sharp drop in the number of preemie babies in his unit. He decided to compare the number of very tiny babies born this year with previous years, going back as far as 2001. His findings were dramatic. Numbers had dropped by around 75% for 2020, in comparison to previous years.
Same story in Denmark
At the same time, researchers in Denmark had also noticed an unusual absence in preterm births and were running their own comparisons with previous years. Dr Michael Christiansen and his team from the Statens Serum Institute in Copenhagen, looked at data from the last 5 years. They found the number of babies born early during lockdown had dropped by a staggering 90%, in comparison to previous years.
And there’s more!!
As the two doctors shared their findings, they realized they were not the only ones. Doctors from the University of Calgary in Alberta and a team from Rotterdam in the Netherlands, also saw a reduction in preterm births of around 50% during lockdown.
So why is it happening?
Living through lockdown meant huge changes in our day to day routines, with many of us working from home. For lots of pregnant women, this meant they cut out their daily commute and could rest when they needed to, all of which helped to reduce stress levels. Spending more time at home in isolation, also protected moms to be from other viruses, such as influenza, a virus that can be particularly dangerous during pregnancy.
Can it really be stress related?
But were we really less stressed? According to the experts, stress levels went through the roof during lockdown. People worried about their jobs, their health. Many families were stuck at home, facing a future full of uncertainty. If anything, we should’ve seen the number of preterm births increase.
Could it be pollution?
One thing we can say for sure. Pollution levels dropped dramatically during lockdown. Roads were deserted as people stayed home. The skies were clear of planes and many factories closed their doors as workers stayed home. The result? Clean air, free from pollutants.
Could this be the missing link?
Risks for moms and babies
Exposure to pollution has been linked to pre-eclampsia in pregnant women and underdeveloped lungs in newborns. The number of still births increases by as much as 51% if moms have been exposed to pollution. So it’s no surprise to find studies also connect exposure to air pollution and premature birth.
Protection with Austin Air
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