A mother’s exposure to air pollution can often take a toll on fetal growth, but a new, multidisciplinary Keck School of Medicine of USC study shows that stress exacerbates the risk by a substantial degree. The findings were published in JAMA Network Open.

Newborns with low birth weight face increased risk of neonatal mortality and potential complications such as breathing problems, bleeding in the brain, jaundice and infections. Low birth weight is also associated with long-term disease risks including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, intellectual and developmental disabilities, metabolic syndrome and obesity.

Carrie Breton, ScD, a professor of population and public health sciences at the Keck School and one of the study’s authors, says that continuing to monitor air pollutants, especially in underserved neighborhoods, still needs to be a priority. Reducing individual and neighborhood stressors must also be addressed, particularly at the policy level.

To read the full story, including the details of the study, click here.