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Reproductive and Birth Outcomes

Reproductive and Birth Outcomes and the Environment

Our understanding of risk factors for reproductive problems such as infertility, low birth weight, prematurity, fetal and infant death has increased over the past decades. There is still much we do not know. One big question is what role do environmental exposures play in reproductive and infant health problems? We do know that:

  • Exposure of nonsmoking pregnant women to environmental tobacco smoke (also known as secondhand smoke) may be a risk factor for preterm birth, low birth weight, and possibly fetal death or miscarriage
  • Exposure to air pollution may be related to both low birth weight and preterm birth, even at low levels
  • A pregnant woman's exposure to lead may cause preterm birth, low birth weight, and spontaneous fetal death or miscarriage
  • Exposure to pesticides has been associated with fetal death (miscarriage) and babies being born too small
  • Social conditions, such as poverty, poor health before pregnancy, and lack of access to medical care may cause reproductive and birth problems

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