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Air Pollution Linked With Lower Birth Weights

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Areas with higher air pollution rates may be more likely to produce children with lower birth rates, according to a new study from researchers at The University of Rochester Medical Center. For the study the researchers reviewed health records for children born in Beijing, China over the last decade.

They found that kids born during the Beijing Olympics in 2008, when the Chinese government cracked down heavily on air pollution, had significantly higher birth rates than kids born during other years in the last decade.

"The results of this study demonstrate a clear association between changes in air pollutant concentrations and birth weight," the researchers explain. "These findings not only illustrate one of the many significant health consequences of pollution, but also demonstrate that this phenomenon can be reversed."

They add, "While Beijing's pollution is particularly noteworthy, many of the world's other cities face similar air quality problems. This study shows that pollution controls -- even short-term ones -- can have positive public health benefits."

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