Smoke haze from Australia’s catastrophic bushfires is continuing to affect many parts of the country.
Although there’s no safe level of air pollution, the health hazards tend to be greatest for vulnerable groups. Alongside people with pre-existing conditions, smoke exposure presents unique risks for pregnant women.
Research shows prolonged exposure to bushfire smoke increases the risk of pregnancy complications including high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, low birth weight and premature birth (before 37 weeks).
These conditions can have short-term and lifelong effects on a baby’s health, with increased risk of conditions including cerebral palsy and visual or hearing impairment. Even babies born only a few weeks early can experience learning difficulties and behavioural problems, and have an elevated risk of heart disease in later life.
So it’s especially important pregnant women protect themselves from exposure to bushfire smoke.