An article published today in the International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics, highlights the impact of climate change on pregnant women, children, people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, and those from disadvantaged and marginalised communities.
The authors of the paper show how pregnant women who are exposed to heat and air pollution caused by climate change have an increased risk of stillbirth, low birth weight, and preterm birth. The paper also looks at the displacement caused by extreme weather events, putting people’s health and sexual and reproductive health and greater risk, and worsening access to maternity care.
Dr Ranee Thakar, Senior Vice President for Global Health at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said:
“This report shows how climate change is not only linked to increased risks of adverse pregnancy outcomes, but it is also directly impacting on the quality and the availability of women’s reproductive and maternal healthcare around the world.
“In low income countries, there are already barriers to accessing reproductive health needs like contraceptives and abortions, with prenatal and maternity healthcare sometimes lacking. Any natural disasters threaten to further limit access, which could have devastating consequences for many women and girls.
“We are especially concerned that this crisis is widening existing health inequalities. Efforts must be focused on closing these inequalities, to ensure that those who are most vulnerable are not being ignored. The evidence is clear, and we strongly support FIGO’s calls to international governments to act on the burden that climate change is putting on healthcare. We urge the UK government to set stronger air quality targets, and address the increased risks of climate change to pregnant women and children.”
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Notes to Editor:
- Read the full paper: Climate change, women’s health, and the role of obstetricians and gynaecologists in leadership
- In October 2021, RCOG, RCPCH and UKHACC published this joint policy briefing after The Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change report was published.
- In June, the RCOG published this policy position statement about air pollution and pregnancy in the UK: https://www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/news/position-statements/rcog-position-statement-outdoor-air-pollution-and-pregnancy.pdf