Researchers at the Okayama Graduate School of Medicine studied over 14,000 births in Shizuoka, Japan between 1997 and 2008 to determine if women who live near major roads are more likely to have premature births. The answer? Pregnant women who live within 200 meters of a major road have babies in under 37 weeks (a full-term pregnancy is 40 weeks) 15 percent of the time. Women who don't live near a major road don't make it to 37 weeks 10 percent of the time.
Top researcher Takashi Yorifuji and his team feel that a major reason for this disparity could be noise pollution. Housewives are more prone to premature births than those who work outside the home, possibly showing the link between continued noise exposure and pre-term births. Women who live close to major thoroughfares also were more prone to high blood pressure as well, also a potential cause for delivering early.
So what can expecting woman who live near a major road do? Outside of moving there aren't a whole lot of choices. Yorifuji says that remaining indoors may help, as does improved diet and quitting smoking.
[Source: Reuters | Image: Corbis/Getty]