Ideally, pregnant women should do everything they can to have a full term pregnancy, because babies born even a few weeks early risk being less healthy and possibly suffering from long term disabilities.
So what can moms to be do to keep their babies inside for as long as possible? Healthy eating and avoiding stress are common- sense tips. But less well known is that pregnant women may want to avoid spending too much time near freeways and busy intersections.
According to many studies over the past decade, mothers living near high traffic areas are more likely to give birth prematurely.
It's not clear why, exactly, heavy traffic could cause premature birth. Air pollution from car exhaust could have something to do with it. Some studies have found that women exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide were up to twenty-five percent more likely to have a preterm baby than women in areas with cleaner air.
It's also possible that loud noise from highways and freeways could play a role by disturbing pregnant women's sleep. Losing sleep typically causes stress, which is linked to premature birth.
Whatever the specific cause, these studies at the very least suggest that loud, heavy traffic, and pregnancy don't mix.
- Babies born earlier in areas near busy road junctions (EurekAlert)