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Air pollution is a serious environmental problem that can affect your health and the health of your unborn baby.
Air pollution can come from various sources, such as vehicle exhaust, industrial emissions, wildfires, and second-hand smoke.
Some of the harmful substances in the air include ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide.
Exposure to air pollution during pregnancy can increase the risk of complications such as preterm birth, low birth weight, preeclampsia, and birth defects.
It can also affect the development of your baby’s lungs, brain, and immune system.
Therefore, it is important to take steps to reduce your exposure to air pollution and protect yourself and your baby.
5 crucial tips to help you avoid or minimize the effects of air pollution during pregnancy
Check the air quality index (AQI) regularly
The AQI is a measure of how polluted the air is in your area. You can find the AQI for your location at airnow.gov or by using a smartphone app.
The AQI ranges from 0 to 500, with higher numbers indicating worse air quality.
If the AQI is above 100, it means that the air is unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as pregnant women, children, and people with chronic conditions.
If the AQI is above 150, it means that the air is unhealthy for everyone.
Try to avoid going outside when the AQI is high, especially during peak hours (usually between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.).
Stay indoors as much as possible when the air quality is poor
If you have to go outside, limit your time and physical activity.
Wear a mask that fits well and filters out at least 95% of small particles (such as an N95 or KN95 mask).
Avoid masks with valves or vents, as they do not protect others from your exhaled breath.
Keep your windows and doors closed and use an air conditioner or a fan with a filter to circulate the air.
Avoid smoking or being around smokers, as tobacco smoke can worsen the effects of air pollution.
Choose cleaner modes of transportation
Driving a car can contribute to air pollution and expose you to more pollutants inside the vehicle.
If possible, use public transportation, carpooling, biking, or walking instead of driving.
If you have to drive, avoid traffic jams and busy roads.
Keep your windows rolled up and use the recirculate mode on your car’s ventilation system.
Eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of water
Eating foods rich in antioxidants, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains, can help protect your cells from oxidative stress caused by air pollution.
Drinking water can help flush out toxins from your body and keep you hydrated.
Talk to your healthcare provider about your exposure to air pollution and any concerns you may have
Your healthcare provider can monitor your pregnancy and advise you on how to manage any symptoms or complications related to air pollution.
They can also help you plan for where you will get prenatal care or deliver your baby if your doctor’s office or hospital is affected by poor air quality.
Air pollution is a challenge that we all face in our modern world.
However, by following these tips, you can reduce your exposure to harmful substances in the air and protect yourself and your baby during pregnancy.
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