Media keeps churning identity politics: NYT: ‘Climate Change Tied to Pregnancy Risks, Affecting Black Mothers Most’


By: - Climate DepotJune 18, 2020 2:14 PM with 0 comments

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/18/climate/climate-change-pregnancy-study.html?smid=tw-share

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WASHINGTON — Pregnant women exposed to high temperatures or air pollution are more likely to have children who are premature, underweight or stillborn, and African-American mothers and babies are harmed at a much higher rate than the population at large, according to sweeping new research examining more than 32 million births in the United States.

The research adds to a growing body of evidence that minorities bear a disproportionate share of the danger from pollution and global warming. Not only are minority communities in the United States far more likely to be hotter than the surrounding areas, a phenomenon known as the “heat island” effect, but they are also more likely to be located near polluting industries.

“We already know that these pregnancy outcomes are worse for black women,” said Rupa Basu, one of the paper’s authors and the chief of the air and climate epidemiological section for the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment in California. “It’s even more exacerbated by these exposures.”

The research, published Thursday in JAMA Network Open, part of the Journal of the American Medical Association, presents some of the most sweeping evidence so far linking aspects of climate change with harm to newborn children. The project looked at 57 studies published since 2007 that found a relationship between heat or air pollution and birth outcomes in the United States.

The cumulative findings from the studies offer reason to be concerned that the toll on babies’ health will grow as climate change worsens.

Higher temperatures, which are an increasing issue as climate change causes more frequent and intense heat waves, were associated with more premature births. Four studies found that high temperatures were tied to an increased risk of premature birth ranging from 8.6 percent to 21 percent. Low birth weights were also more common as temperatures rose.

The authors looked at two studies that examined the link between higher temperatures and stillbirths. One found that every temperature increase of 1 degree Celsius in the week before delivery corresponded with a 6 percent greater likelihood of stillbirth between May and September. Both studies found racial disparities in the number of stillbirths.

“Black moms matter,” said Bruce Bekkar, a retired gynecologist and obstetrician one of the co-authors of Thursday’s report, as well as a board member with the Climate Action Campaign, an advocacy group in San Diego. “It’s time to really be paying attention to the groups that are especially vulnerable.”

Adrienne Hollis, senior climate justice and health scientist for the Union of Concerned Scientists, said the problems could not be tackled in isolation. “We need to look at policies that provide equitable opportunities for communities of color,” Dr. Hollis said. “If you address structural racism, I think you’re going to start getting at some of these issues.”