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Yet Another Negative Impact of Climate Change

A new study shows a connection between climate change and low birth weight.

newborn baby being weighed on scale Shutterstock
It's long been known that climate change has adverse effects to multiple facets of our environment. The list of immediate impacts to humans, such as worsening allergies, has continued to grow, and researchers from the University of Utah have found yet another negative impact.

The two-year project, published in Global Environmental Change, examined health and climate data to investigate climate change's effect on birth weight in the developing world. Specifically, researchers focused on precipitation, temperature, and birth weight in 19 African countries.

The study found that the combination of reduced precipitation and a greater amount of hot days resulted in babies being born at a lower weight.

"While the severity of that impact depends on where the pregnant woman lives, in this case the developing world, we can see the potential for similar outcomes everywhere," stated geography professor Kathryn Grace, who led the project, in the study's news release.

Researchers analyzed approximately 70,000 births between 1989 and 2010. It was found that, on average, a 10 millimeter increase in precipitation (during any trimester) led to an increase in birth weight of about 0.3-0.5 grams. Additionally, an increase in hot days (above 100ºF) during any point of pregnancy correlates with lower birth weights.

Just one more reason to show Mother Earth a little more TLC.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. Follow her on Twitter:@CAITYstjohn.

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