Air pollution could be contributing to millions of premature births


Every year, roughly 15 million babies are born prematurely.

And now, scientists think the air we breathe is partially to blame.

Estimates in a new study have linked up to 3.4 million premature births to pregnant women breathing fine particulate matter — or air pollution.

According to the study, the highest numbers of those births are in South and East Asia, the Middle East and some African countries.

SEE MORE: India Is On Its Way To Having The Worst Air Pollution In The World

The study does have limitations. There's not a whole lot of research on preterm births in some highly affected areas. Other factors like poverty, infection, education and psychological health also come into play.

Still, researchers believe a reduction in air pollution in the areas where it's most prevalent could mean fewer babies being born too early.

And that's an important finding. According to the World Health Organization, complications from premature births are the leading cause of death for children under 5.

20 PHOTOS
Celebrities as babies
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Celebrities as babies

ELLEN DEGENERES

Who knew this little cherub would turn into everyone’s favorite talk show host prankster?

Photo: PureWow

GEORGE CLOONEY

Speaking of legendary pranksters… This one started out young.

Photo: PureWow

LEONARDO DICAPRIO

Far less brooding 40 years ago.

Photo: PureWow

BEYONCÉ

Who run the world? Curls.

Photo: PureWow

JUSTIN BIEBER

Is it too late now to say sorry (for this sweatshirt)?

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Photo: PureWow

SOFIA VERGARA

Blonde...who knew?

Photo: PureWow

JOHN LEGEND

Soon enough he’s gonna have one of these, too.

Photo: PureWow

AMY SCHUMER

She still makes this very face.

Photo: PureWow

KATE MIDDLETON

Little duchesses gotta start somewhere.

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Photo: Getty Images

LENA DUNHAM

Feminist in the making.

Photo: PureWow

KANYE WEST

You, little angel, will one day discover Twitter.

Photo: PureWow

JENNIFER ANISTON

Always the fashion plate.

Photo: PureWow

JAMES FRANCO

Don't worry, buddy: You'll meet Seth Rogan in a few decades.

Photo: PureWow

STEVEN TYLER

Kind of never not cheesin'.

Photo: PureWow

SUSAN SARANDON

Forever young.

Photo: PureWow

MERYL STREEP

You'd be excited, too, if you were destined to be one of the best actresses in the world.

Photo: PureWow

BRAD PITT

Well, he certainly grew into himself.

Photo: PureWow

BARBRA STREISAND

A real jack-of-all-trades since childhood.

Photo: PureWow

MADONNA

Costume inspirations in the making.

Photo: PureWow

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