Living near a busy road could increase your chances of giving birth prematurely, according to a new study in Japan.
Mums-to-be who lived within 200m of a main road were 50% more likely to give birth before 37 weeks than those who lived further from main traffic arteries. Housewives, who spent more time at their home, were the most likely to give birth early.
Researchers believe the risk may be due to increased pollution in these areas.
“Air pollution is considered to be a potentially important risk factor of preterm births,” explained Dr Takashi Yorifuki, who lead the study of 14,226 births between 1997 and 2008 in the Japanese city of Shizuoka.
The study also took out social and economic factors that could influence premature birth and found that the results remained.
In the UK, a spokesman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said the study was interesting but on its own rather weak. “It’s highly likely there are other confounding factors,” he said. “There are many, many causes of pre-term labour.”