Public Release: 

Birth weight affected by warm temperatures during pregnancy

Study conducted by researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Harvard

American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

BOSTON... June 9, 2015 - Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and Harvard University researchers have developed a technique that measures the correlation between air temperature and birth weight. They evaluated the relationship between birth outcomes (focusing on birth weight) and ambient air temperature during pregnancy in Massachusetts between 2000 and 2008.

"We found that exposure to high air temperature during pregnancy increases the risk of lower birth weight and can cause preterm birth," according to Dr. Itai Kloog, a senior lecturer in BGU's Department of Geography and Environmental Development. "An increase of 8.5 °C in the last trimester of average exposure was associated with a 17g decrease in birth weight of babies born full term after adjusting for other potential risk factors."

The paper, "Using Satellite-Based Spatiotemporal Resolved Air Temperature Exposure to Study the Association between Ambient Air Temperature and Birth Outcomes in Massachusetts" was recently published in the Environmental Health Perspectives journal.

Together with his colleagues, Dr. Kloog developed a "high resolution air temperature estimation model" to predict daily air temperature by kilometer and address level exposure during various prenatal exposure periods from date of conception through birth for each mother.

"With the increase in temperatures over the last century and continued emissions from greenhouse gases, more attention is being focused on effects from heat," Kloog says.

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The researchers from Harvard University include, Steven J. Melly, Prof. Brent A. Coull, Dr. Francesco Nordio, and Prof. Joel D. Schwartz.

This study was funded by the Harvard EPA PM Clean Air Research Center (CLARC) (R- 834798), NIEHS ES000002, and the following R21 climate grants ES020695 and AG040027.

American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (AABGU) plays a vital role in sustaining David Ben-Gurion's vision, creating a world-class institution of education and research in the Israeli desert, nurturing the Negev community and sharing the University's expertise locally and around the globe. With some 20,000 students on campuses in Beer-Sheva, Sede Boqer and Eilat in Israel's southern desert, BGU is a university with a conscience, where the highest academic standards are integrated with community involvement, committed to sustainable development of the Negev. AABGU is headquartered in Manhattan and has nine regional offices throughout the United States, including Boston. For more information, e-mail newengland@aabgu.org, call 800-962-2248, or visit http://www.aabgu.org

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