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New Data Reveals Damaging Effects Of Climate Change On Pregnant Women

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- We've all heard of the varied effects of climate change and global warming on the environment: melting ice caps, rising sea levels, crop damage and much more.

But, here's one you may not have though of -- how climate change is negatively affecting pregnancy with potentially serious consequences.

There's an accepted link between rising global temperatures and air pollution, specifically ozone and fine particulate matter. The tiny particles emitted when fossil fuels like diesel and coal are burned.

Now a huge analysis in JAMA Open Network of 57 previous studies, that included health records of nearly 33 million pregnant women found that women exposed to high temperatures or air pollution are significantly more likely to have premature, underweight or stillborn babies. The effects hurt African-American mothers and babies the most.

Doctors worry that cumulative negative health and cognitive effects of prematurity and low birth weight can have lifelong consequences on things such as brain development and vulnerability to disease.

Advocacy groups point out that the disproportionate impact on African-American mothers could affect the debate around climate change, adding an element of racial health disparity to what has been a mostly economic and environmental discussion.

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