Two studies released Wednesday have linked toxic air pollution in Southern California to high cancer rates and complications with birth.
Exposure to traffic-generated pollution increased the risk of major complications and premature birth, a report published in Environmental Health Perspectives online concluded.
By measuring pregnant women's exposure to chemicals emitted by local traffic, the researchers concluded that the risk for preeclampsia, a condition that can lead to maternal and perinatal death, increased by as much as 42% at the highest exposures. The risk for "very pre-term delivery" (when the fetus is less than 30 weeks old) increased by as much as 128%.
The study was the first to look at the connection between preeclampsia and air pollution. It focused on births in Los Angeles and Orange counties.