September 11, 2018 7:06 pm
Updated: September 11, 2018 9:56 pm

Using air purifiers in homes of pregnant women may improve fetal growth, B.C. study finds

WATCH: B.C. scientists have made a discovery that could improve fetal growth in pregnant women. As Catherine Urquhart reports, the SFU researchers says purified air could be the key. Today's Global News Hour at 6 Health Matters is brought to you by Pharmasave.

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Portable air purifiers inside homes of pregnant women could improve fetal growth, according to a new study from Simon Fraser University.

Researchers recruited 500 pregnant women in the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator, one of the world’s most polluted cities, and gave half of them high-efficiency particulate arresting (HEPA) air purifiers.

The air purifiers decreased fine particulate matter in the women’s homes by 29 per cent.

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“We found that pregnant women who used HEPA air purifiers inside their homes gave birth to babies that weighed 85 grams more on average at term than women who did not use air purifiers during pregnancy,” researcher Prabjit Barn said.

Colleague Ryan Allen notes that the study’s goal was not necessarily about encouraging pregnant women to use air purifiers but to look at the health benefits of improved air quality.

“It seems that what happens when air pollution improves is that you get healthier, better fetal growth,” he said.

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Allen said air purifiers can be a “short-term intervention,” but, “in some sense, it’s more of a societal question than it is [a question] for any individual woman.”

“In the long-term, I would like to see wider recognition of the fact that air pollution is a threat to health and I would like to see us all… try to take it more seriously as a threat and try to address air pollution at the source.”

That being said, Allen said if his wife were pregnant, he would purchase an air purifier for their home.

“My wife and I actually operate air purifiers in our home right now, so I practise what I preach.”

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