Exposure to temperature extremes can adversely impact birth outcomes, including changes in length of gestation, birth weight, stillbirth, and neonatal stress during unusually hot temperatures, according to the study published in the Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
"Expecting mothers are an important group whose unique vulnerability to heat stress should be factored into public health policy," said Sabrina McCormick, Associate Professor at Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University.
The researchers conducted extensive systematic review of research articles that identify how heat-related exposures result in adverse health effects for pregnant women.
The findings showed that heat events occurring earlier in the warm season cause an increase in adverse outcomes relative to comparable events occurring later.
"Exposure to extreme heat can harm both pregnant mothers and their babies, especially in situations where the expectant mother has limited access to prenatal care," McCormick said.
"Our study indicates that there is a need for further research on the ways that climate change, and heat in particular, affect maternal health and neonatal outcomes," McCormick said.
"The research also shows that uniform standards for assessing the effects of heat on maternal foetal health need to be established," McCormick added.