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Half of Black mothers don’t feel educated on the fatal impact of pollution during pregnancy

A new report has revealed around half of Black mothers in London have not been properly educated on the fatal dangers of pollution during pregnancy. 

The results show that 44 per cent of all Black mothers in London knew “nothing at all” about the impact of air pollution on pregnancy.

Launched on Clean Air Day on Wednesday by Global Black Maternal Health, the report was commissioned by Impact on Urban Health and spoke directly to Black pregnant women and mothers in London.

When asked about the effects of air pollution on health during pregnancy, almost half stated that they knew nothing at all. While 58 per cent felt that they knew nothing at all when it came to the health of the baby.

Whilst the majority of respondents are concerned or somewhat concerned about the impact of air pollution on their health, their baby’s health, and the long-term impact of air pollution on their child once born, the findings show that just over a quarter reported that they were not at all concerned. 

This rises to 49 per cent for Black Caribbean respondents, in comparison to 25 per cent of Black African and 17.5 per cent of mixed race respondents.

Air pollution contributes up to 43,000 deaths in the UK per year. According to government data from 2022, London has the highest percentage of deaths attributable to air pollution, with an estimated 4,000 deaths caused by air pollution each year. 

Pregnant women exposed to air pollution are more likely to have children who are born prematurely, underweight or stillborn and to have reduced live birth rate and maternal depressive symptoms. 

Dr Karen Joash, consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology “It is now known that particles from air pollutants reach the placenta.

“These particles are likely to lead to epigenetic changes and imprinting which is passed through the generations to have long lasting health effects in these communities. 

“The findings of this report must trigger change and trigger research, system and policy change to lead to cleaner air for all.”

Black communities in London are more likely to breathe illegal levels of air pollution than White or Asian communities. 

Regardless of these figures, no research into air pollution and pregnancy has spoken directly to the communities that are more adversely affected until now. 

Agnes Agyepong, chief executive of Global Black Maternal Health said: “We wanted to commission this report to take the first step towards truly understanding the disproportionate impact that air pollution can have on Black communities.

“Many times reports show race is an increased risk factor, but rarely do these reports delve into the contextual nuances and systematic issues at play. 

“Previous studies of air pollution have not included the very women who are amongst the most impacted.

“We stand at a crucial crossroads. We have the power to effect change, and to challenge the systems that perpetuate these disparities, and it starts with amplifying the voices of Black women.”

(Picture:cottonbro studio, Pexels)

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