Weight, exercise, age, smoking, alcohol and stress can all affect a couple’s chances of becoming pregnant. However in recent years, there is growing evidence to show that air quality has a part to play too.

This week, we take a look at the results from various studies, all investigating how air pollution affects a couple’s chances of becoming pregnant and having a healthy baby.

Italian study links air quality to egg production

In 2019, scientists from Italy found that regular exposure to high levels of Particulate Matter (PM2.5) and Nitrogen Dioxide can affect a woman’s supply of eggs. In a separate study, men exposed to exhaust fumes as part of their work, were far more likely to have poor quality sperm.

Still birth and premature birth linked to air pollution

In another study, this time from Finland, researchers found that as air pollution levels rise, so does the risk of still birth. And a study from a team at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Centre shows poor air quality is linked to preterm birth.

Pollution linked to 20% greater risk of infertility

And now, a new study from China, found that an increase in pollution levels can lead to a 20% greater risk of infertility.

Even a small increase can make a difference

Perhaps most alarming, according to this latest study, pollution levels do not have to be particularly high to have an effect. According to WHO guidelines, a PM (Particulate Matter) reading of less than 10 micrograms per cubic meter is acceptable. However the team from China found that, even at these levels, risk of infertility is increased by 20%.

Pollution is a factor we can’t ignore

Infertility affects millions of couples around the world. And as many as 30% of couples who have difficulty conceiving, don’t know why. Could air pollution be the missing link? As the evidence continues to stack up, it’s a factor we can’t ignore.

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