Two UCLA Fielding School studies link air pollution to preterm births

August 10, 2020

Two separate studies from the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health have linked exposures to air pollutants to higher risks of preterm births. 

In a study published in Environmental Health Perspectives, researchers from UCLA and the University of Southern California found that a high level of exposure to oil and gas “flaring events” (the burning off of excess natural gas at production sites) is associated with a 50% higher risk for preterm birth.

Photo Source: Leonid Ikan/123rf

“Our findings suggest that living within three miles of flaring adversely impacts pregnant women and infants,” said Lara Cushing, co-lead author of the study and an environmental health scientist at the Fielding School.

Pregnant women exposed to high levels of ultrafine particles from jet airplane exhaust are 14% more likely to have preterm births, a separate team of Fielding researchers found in another study published in Environmental Health Perspectives. The researchers examined exposure among women living near Los Angeles International Airport.

“The data suggest that airplane pollution contributes to preterm births above and beyond the main source of air pollution in this area, which is traffic,” said Dr. Beate Ritz, epidemiology and environmental health professor at the Fielding School.

The findings of the study could have negative health implications for the nearly two million Angelenos who currently reside within a 10-mile radius of LAX. 

Read more at UCLA Newsroom: 

Natural gas flaring poses pregnancy risks.

Jet aircraft exhaust linked to preterm births.

Additional coverage: 

Exposure to natural gas flaring raises risk of preterm birth by 50%. The Guardian. July 31, 2020. 

Study links gas flares to preterm Births, with Hispanic women at high risk. New York Times. July 22, 2020.

A new study finds mothers who live near gas flaring sites are at higher risk of preterm births. Washington Post. July 23, 2020.

UCLA study: Jet aircraft exhaust linked to preterm births. My News LA. July 22, 2020.