Pregnant women in India, along with Bangladesh and Pakistan, exposed to poor air quality, are at high risk of stillbirths and miscarriages, a modelling study published in The Lancet Planetary Health journal stated.
The study combines the data from household surveys on health from 1998-2016 and estimated exposure to PM2.5 during pregnancy through combining satellites with atmospheric modelling outputs.
The researchers calculated the number of pregnancy losses possibly caused by PM2.5 in the whole region for the period 2000-16. They looked at how many pregnancy losses might have been prevented under India's and WHO's air quality standard.
The study assessed data for 34,197 mothers, who had at least one pregnancy loss and one or more live birth, of whom 26,282 (76·9%) were from India, followed by Pakistan, with 42,28 (12·4%) and 3,687 (10·8%) from Bangladesh.
The study found that an estimated 49,681 pregnancy losses every year in south Asian countries were associated with exposure to PM2.5 concentrations, that exceeded India's air quality standard of 40 micrograms per cubic metre of small particulate matter.
This is nearly 7 percent of annual pregnancy loss in the region from 2000-2016, reported NDTV.
According to the report, exposure may have contributed to 29 percent of pregnancy losses, according to the study.
Study lead author Tao Xue, from China's Peking University, states that globally, Asia has the biggest burden of pregnancy loss and is one of the world's most PM2.5 polluted regions.
"Our findings suggest that poor air quality could be responsible for a considerable burden of pregnancy loss in the region, providing further justification for urgent action to tackle dangerous levels of pollution," Xue's statement read.
Tianjia Guan, the co-author, said that pregnancy loss could have 'knock-on mental, physical, and economic effects on women', including increased risk of postnatal depressive disorders, infant mortality during a subsequent pregnancy, and increase pregnancy-related costs.
"Therefore, reducing pregnancy loss may also lead to knock-on improvements in gender equality," Tianjia Guan, one of the authors of the study said.
The study concluded that pregnancy loss due to air pollution was more common in the Northern plains region in India and Pakistan. It also affected women, who were pregnant at 30 or above, in rural areas because of their high susceptibility to pollution's adverse effects.
According to the report, the researchers had created a model to calculate the risk of pregnancy loss for every ten micrograms per cubic metre increase in PM2.5 after adjusting for maternal age, temperature and humidity, seasonal variation long-term trends in pregnancy loss.
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