According to research completed by QUT (Queensland University of Technology), pregnant women need to stay cool during the first 28 weeks of pregnancy to decrease the risk of miscarriage and birth defects.
Researchers noted that when the air temperature was around 59 degrees F, the risk of stillbirths hovered around 350 per 100,000 births. When the median temperature rose of around 73 degrees F, the number of stillbirths rose to more than 600 per 100,000 births. Researchers noted no increase in stillbirths when temperatures averaged higher than 73 degrees F. It was noted that pregnant women may seek air-conditioned areas when temperatures increased and thus a change in stillbirth rate was not noted.
While there are other studies out there examining the significance of temperature and premature delivery, none has studied the rate of stillbirths related to temperature until now. On a global scale, if global warming continues and the average temperatures continue to rise, it could significantly impact the birth rate all over the world, say researchers.
Theoretically, if the average temperature of the earth continues to rise, the rate of stillbirths will also continue to rise. Soon, the rate of stillbirths could significantly reduce birth rates and world population.
Professor Adrian Barnett of QUT believes women can protect themselves against the negative effects of increased temperature by moving to cooler areas. “Pregnant women should protect themselves from overheating to reduce the likelihood of pre-term or stillbirths.”
Data collected from previously complete research studies have resulted in recommendations regarding Jacuzzi tubs, hot tubs, and saunas during pregnancy. Pregnant women are warned not to use this equipment during pregnancy to reduce the risk of stillbirth or miscarriage. Possible side effects include severe dehydration and premature birth caused by the effects of heat stress. Future studies may involve areas where temperatures are regularly above the 73-degree mark.