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New report indicates that almost half of all Black mothers do not feel educated on the fetal impact of air pollution exposure during pregnancy

15 Jun 2023

A new report has been launched by Global Black Maternal Health on Clean Air Day, exploring the effects of air pollution on Black mothers in London.

The report findings indicate that Black communities in London are more likely to breathe illegal levels of air pollution than White or Asian communities, while finding both worries and gaps in knowledge about air pollution both outdoors and inside the home.

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. 

The report makes 14 recommendations for policymakers, healthcare professional bodies and women. Policymakers in London are urged to co-produce and promote information material for Black families, and ensure air quality policies reflect and respond to their social context.

Dr Ranee Thakar, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, comments: “In the UK, women and children from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds experience a disproportionate burden of health impacts from air pollution. There is clear evidence that exposure to pollution during pregnancy increases the risk of poor pregnancy outcomes including stillbirth, low birth weight and preterm birth.

“This new report adds to the existing body of research that air quality, and the health equity issues that come with polluted air, must be taken seriously by policymakers. Sustainability is a strategic priority for our College, and we will carefully consider the report recommendations to inform our work in this important area. As obstetricians and gynaecologists we have a role in ensuring policymakers, our colleagues and the people we care for feel able to respond to the health risks of environmental pollutants and the related issue of climate change”.

Read the full report here.

  • Clinical and research
  • Pregnancy and birth