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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 21  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 9-17

Occupational, environmental, and lifestyle factors and their contribution to preterm birth – An overview

1 Division of Reproductive and Cyto-toxicology, National Institute of Occupational Health (ICMR), Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India
2 Department of Pediatrics, Women and Infants Hospital, Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, USA

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Sunil Kumar
Division of Reproductive and Cyto-toxicology, National Institute of Occupational Health (ICMR), Ahmedabad - 380 016, Gujarat
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijoem.IJOEM_155_16

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Preterm birth (PTB) is a significant public health concern and a leading cause of infant mortality and morbidity worldwide and often contributes to various health complications later in life. More than 60% of PTBs occur in Africa and south Asia. This overview discusses the available information on occupational, environmental, and lifestyle factors and their contribution to PTB and proposes new etiological explanations that underlie this devastating pregnancy complication. Several factors such as emotional, stress, social, racial, maternal anxiety, multiple pregnancies, infections during pregnancy, diabetes and high blood pressure, and in-vitro fertilization pregnancy have been shown to be associated with PTB. Data are emerging that occupational, environmental exposure and lifestyle factors might also be associated in part with PTB, however, they are at best limited and inconclusive. Nevertheless, data on heavy metals such as lead, air pollutants and particulate matters, bisphenol A, phthalate compounds, and environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) are promising and point to higher incidence of PTB associated with exposure to them. Thus, these observations can be used to advise pregnant women or women of reproductive age to avoid such exposures and adopt positive lifestyle to protect pregnancy and normal fetal development. There is a need to conduct well-planned epidemiological studies that include all the pathology causing factors that may contribute to adverse pregnancy outcomes, including PTB.


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