According to a new study published in the Journal ‘Environmental Health Perspectives’, mothers who live in the countryside are more likely to deliver at full term with babies weighing more after birth when compared to mothers who live in urban areas that are not as green.
“The research really suggests that greenness affects birth outcomes in other ways, such as psychologically or socially,” said the lead author of the study Perry Hystad, an assistant professor at Oregon State University in the US.
The study consisted of more than 64,000 births, wherein the researchers observed pre-term births were 20 percent lower and moderately pre-term births were 13 percent lower for infants whose mothers lived in greener neighborhoods.
They also found that fewer infants from greener neighborhoods were considered small for their gestational age. The findings held up even when results were adjusted for factors such as neighborhood income, exposure to air pollution, noise and neighborhood walkability.
Babies from the greener neighborhoods weighed 45 grams more at birth than infants from less verdant neighborhoods, Hystad said.
Babies born early or underweight often have more health and developmental problems, not just at birth but also as they continue to grow up, and the cost to care for pre-term and underweight infants also can be much higher.