Washington, July 31 : A new study has found that living near city expressways is associated with adverse birth effects on expectant mothers and their newborns.
During the study, researchers from the Universite de Montreal and the University of South Australia found that women living closest to expressways are more vulnerable to highway pollution - especially affluent mothers.
"We found a disproportionately high association between living close to a highway and birth complications among affluent mothers," said the study's lead author, Dr. Melissa Genereux, who completed the research at the Universite de Montreal's Department of Social and Preventive Medicine.
"Among affluent mothers who live within 200 metres of a highway, the odds of delivering an infant with low birth weight increase by 81 percent, while their odds of delivering a preterm baby increase by 58 percent compared to mothers who don't live anywhere close to expressways," Genereux added.
Using data from the Quebec birth registry, researchers evaluated statistics from 100,000 new births recorded over a five-year span.
They focused on data from Canada's second biggest city, Montreal, where highways cut through affluent and poor neighbourhoods alike.
Researchers found that mothers living within 200 metres from major highways - especially women from higher socio-economic neighbourhoods - were more likely to deliver preterm, low weight or smaller babies.
"Advantaged mothers may be more susceptible to highway pollution, possibly because they have been protected from other hazards present in low income neighbourhoods," Dr. Genereux said.
"We found a disproportionately high association between living close to a highway and birth complications among affluent mothers," Dr. Genereux added.
The study is published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.