Air pollution and pregnancy

Air pollution is harmful substances in the air--like car exhaust, chemicals from factories, dust, pollen and mold--that can affect breathing and harm your health. 

Most women who live in areas with high levels of air pollution (such as large cities) have healthy babies. But protecting yourself from air pollution during pregnancy can help you have a healthier baby.

How can air pollution affect your pregnancy?

Research shows that if you come into contact with high levels of certain air pollutants (like car exhaust) during pregnancy, you may be slightly more likely than other women to have a premature or small baby. A premature baby is a baby who is born too soon, before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Some research shows that being exposed to certain air pollutants during pregnancy may affect your child’s intelligence later in life.

Air pollution also can affect your general health during pregnancy. It can cause coughing, burning eyes and tightness in the chest. These problems can be worse if you have asthma. Asthma is a health condition that affects the airways and can cause breathing problems.

How can you protect yourself from air pollution during pregnancy? 

Here’s what you can do:

  • If you live near a source  of air pollution or if you have a health condition like asthma, talk to your health care provider about how to stay safe from air pollution. 
  • When local health officials give out air pollution or smog alerts, stay inside and limit your time outside. Ozone gas is a major part of air pollution in cities. When ozone forms air pollution, it’s also called smog.  On alert days, go outside early in the morning or after sunset. Don’t be physically active outside. 
  • Visit airnow.gov to check the air quality in your area.

Check out Air pollution and your baby for more information on air pollution and what you can do to reduce the amount of air pollution where you live.  

What causes air pollution?

Air pollution can come from sources like:

  • Cars, buses, airplanes, trucks and trains
  • Factories, power plants and dry cleaners
  • Construction
  • Mines

Both cities and rural areas can have air pollution. In cities, air pollution gets worse when the air is calm (no wind), the sun is bright and the temperature is warm.


See also:
Air pollution and your baby


Last reviewed: September, 2014

Air pollution is harmful substances in the air--like car exhaust, chemicals from factories, dust, pollen and mold--that can affect breathing and harm your health. 

Most women who live in areas with high levels of air pollution (such as large cities) have healthy babies. But protecting yourself from air pollution during pregnancy can help you have a healthier baby.

How can air pollution affect your pregnancy?

Research shows that if you come into contact with high levels of certain air pollutants (like car exhaust) during pregnancy, you may be slightly more likely than other women to have a premature or small baby. A premature baby is a baby who is born too soon, before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Some research shows that being exposed to certain air pollutants during pregnancy may affect your child’s intelligence later in life.

Air pollution also can affect your general health during pregnancy. It can cause coughing, burning eyes and tightness in the chest. These problems can be worse if you have asthma. Asthma is a health condition that affects the airways and can cause breathing problems.

How can you protect yourself from air pollution during pregnancy? 

Here’s what you can do:

  • If you live near a source  of air pollution or if you have a health condition like asthma, talk to your health care provider about how to stay safe from air pollution. 
  • When local health officials give out air pollution or smog alerts, stay inside and limit your time outside. Ozone gas is a major part of air pollution in cities. When ozone forms air pollution, it’s also called smog.  On alert days, go outside early in the morning or after sunset. Don’t be physically active outside. 
  • Visit airnow.gov to check the air quality in your area.

Check out Air pollution and your baby for more information on air pollution and what you can do to reduce the amount of air pollution where you live.  

What causes air pollution?

Air pollution can come from sources like:

  • Cars, buses, airplanes, trucks and trains
  • Factories, power plants and dry cleaners
  • Construction
  • Mines

Both cities and rural areas can have air pollution. In cities, air pollution gets worse when the air is calm (no wind), the sun is bright and the temperature is warm.


See also:
Air pollution and your baby


Last reviewed: September, 2014