Green is good—especially if you're having a baby, new research shows.
Babies born to moms who live in areas with lots of grass and trees are more likely to be born healthy—and at 40 weeks—than those born to mothers who live in cities with less green space, according to a study from Oregon State University and the University of British Columbia.
The study looked at 64,000 births and found that very preterm births were 20 percent lower for moms who lived in greener neighborhoods. Moderate preterm births were lower, too—by 13 percent.
You might be thinking that factors like noise, pollution, and neighborhood income would play more of a role in a baby's weight and delivery time, but the researchers actually adjusted results to leave out those factors and even still, it was all about the greenery.
"This was a surprise," said Perry Hystad, an environmental epidemiologist in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State and lead author of the study, in a press release. "We expected the association between greenness and birth outcomes to disappear once we accounted for other environmental exposures such as air pollution and noise. The research really suggests that greenness affects birth outcomes in other ways, such as psychologically or socially."
While researchers aren't sure what it is specifically about the amount of green space that helps to develop a healthy baby, there is speculation that living in that sort of environment could reduce stress and depression, or provide more opportunities for social interaction for soon-to-be-moms.
Babies that are born preterm or are underweight at birth can have more developmental and health problems as they grow older.
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Photo of baby in grass courtesy of Shutterstock.