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Preterm and early-term birth, heat waves, and our changing climate

05/24/2024 | JAMA Network

Heat waves pose an escalating threat to human health in general and the health of pregnant people and infants in particular.

In a new commentary in JAMA Network Open, our Director of Healthcare Solutions Dr. Caleb Dresser and our Interim Director Dr. Kari Nadeau discuss the association between heat waves and rates of preterm and early-term births.

In “Preterm and early-term birth, heat waves, and our changing climate,” the authors identify important positive associations of preterm and early-term birth with hotter, longer heat waves among lower socioeconomic status subgroups, as well as among Hispanic and non-Hispanic Black mothers.

In addition to the association of heat with fetal development, heat has especially powerful effects on infants, particularly those who are born premature or early term, and can lead to disruptions in sleep, mental health, and behavioral health.

The authors call for policymakers, businesses, and individuals to address the root cause of our escalating exposure to heat waves—namely, the burning of fossil fuels—and invest in adaptive strategies to reduce their effects at the scale of cities, neighborhoods, and individual homes.

Read in JAMA Network Open

Related media:

    • Heat waves associated with increased risk of preterm birth in the U.S. (STAT News)
Caleb Dresser

Caleb Dresser MD, MPH

Caleb is an emergency medicine physician whose research focuses on addressing health needs during and after climate-related disasters.

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Dr. Kari Nadeau

Kari Nadeau MD, PHD

Dr. Nadeau devotes herself to understanding how environmental and genetic factors affect the risk of developing allergies and asthma.

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