Hot weather pregnancy health risks

Impacts for moms, newborns and targets race

JACKSONVILLE,Fla – Expecting mothers living in hot climates are more at risk for being hospitalized during pregnancy with effects having a greater impact for black moms.

Florida’s extreme heat can cause hypertension during childbirth for mothers and impact infants in their first year of life with dehydration at birth and increased hospital visits.

Black mothers are especially vulnerable, according to a paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research, “What to Expect When It Gets Hotter: The Impacts of Prenatal Exposure to Extreme Heat on Maternal and Infant Health.”

For each day a pregnant woman spent in extreme heat during her second trimester, the odds of being hospitalized increased by 4.8% and 3% increase in the third trimester.

The visits to the doctor was driven primarily by pregnancy complications, including hemorrhage, high blood pressure and early labor.

Effects were larger for black women 5% compared to 2.6% for white women.  

Complications from high blood pressure for newborns increased nearly 3%, as hot days compounded during the mother's third trimester.

Results provide new estimates of the health costs of climate change and identify environmental drivers of the black-white maternal health gap.

About the Author: