Early babies linked to nearby traffic

WOMEN who live near freeways and highways are more likely to give birth prematurely, according to Australian research. 

In the study of 970 mothers from Logan City, south of Brisbane, researchers counted the number of roads around the mothers’ homes in a 500-metre radius and found gestational time fell as road intensity increased.

Professor Adrian Barnett, from the Queensland University of Technology’s Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, said gestational time was reduced by almost two weeks with an increase in the number of freeways within 400 metres of the women’s home.

The greatest reductions in gestation periods were reported for mothers living within a 200-metre radius of a high concentration of main roads, with gestation time reduced by 1.1% for every 10 main roads within 400 metres of the home. However, researchers reported no other negative impacts on birth weight, birth length or head circumference.